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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 10, 2016

20 Arrested and Charged Federally in Connection with Drug Trafficking in Central Texas

Today, federal, state and local authorities arrested 20 individuals in connection with a methamphetamine trafficking operation in central Texas announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division.

A federal grand jury indictment, returned in Waco and unsealed today, charges 17 of those arrested with either conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance or distribution of a controlled substance.  Other charges contained in the indictment include use of a communication device (cell phone) in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and, possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.  The indictment alleges that the defendants have distributed controlled substances, including methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, in the Austin/Temple/Killeen areas since January 2013.

Defendants who are charged in this indictment include:

  • Ramon Rodriguez, Jr. (aka “Bacon”), age 30, of Temple, TX, 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana;

  • Elias Mendoza (aka “Big E”), age 35, of Temple, 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana;

  • Eliodoro Denova Lopez, age 28, of Pflugerville, TX, 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana;

  • Joel Jaimes Denova, age 30, of Austin, TX, 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana;

  • Gabriel Rangel, age36, of Cameron, TX, 50 grams or more of methamphetamine;

  • Jose Salomon, age 29, of Cameron, marijuana;

  • Kenneth Montgomery (aka “Wege”) , age 57, of Cameron, cocaine;

  • Nora Tijerina, age 35, of Temple, 500 grams or more of methamphetamine;

  • Oscar Rodriguez, age 34, of Cameron, marijuana;

  • Thomas Lee, age 30, of Temple, marijuana;

  • Atilano Felipe Garcia, age 33, of Temple, less than 50 grams of methamphetamine;

  • Crystal Beck Diggs, age 36, of Belton, TX, less than 50 grams of methamphetamine;

  • Douglas Junior Taylor, age 37, of Temple, cocaine;

  • Jonathan Salazar, age 29, of Cameron, 50 grams or more of methamphetamine;

  • Kevin Kuehnle, age 50, of Killeen, less than 50 grams of methamphetamine;

  • Tawuan Stewart (aka “Gator”), age 37, of Temple, cocaine; and,

  • Rodney Jerome, age 46, of Temple, less than 50 grams of methamphetamine;

The indictment also charges Ramon Rodriguez, Elias Mendoza, Eliodoro Denova Lopez, Joel Jaimes Denova and Thomas Lee with one count of using a cell phone in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and, Jose Salomon with one count of possession of a 12 gauge shotgun in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Upon conviction of the drug trafficking charge:  Ramon Rodriguez, Mendoza, Lopez, Denova, and Tijerina face between ten years and life in federal prison; Rangel, Rollins, Salazar and Arthur face between five and 40 years in federal prison; Diggs, Garcia, Montgomery, Stewart, Kuehnle, Jerome, and Taylor face up to 20 years in federal prison; and, Salomon, Oscar Rodriguez and Lee face up to five years in federal prison based on their involvement, drug type and drug amount involved.  Ramon Rodriguez, Mendoza, Lopez, Denova and Lee face up to four years in federal prison upon conviction of the use of a cell phone during a drug trafficking crime.  Salomon faces five years in federal prison upon conviction for possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. 

In addition to those named above, authorities arrested three other Temple residents today.  They are: Jerry Alexander, age 39; Carlos Brown, age 41; and, T.J. Olivarri, age 28. 

Alexander is charged in a separate, but related, federal indictment with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  Allegedly, on August 18, 2015, Alexander was in possession of .380 caliber pistol.  Alexander’s criminal history revealed three Bell County convictions—cocaine possession in 2000; cocaine possession in 2006; and, evading arrest in 2014.  Upon conviction, he faces up to ten years imprisonment.

Olivarri is charge by a federal criminal complaint with making a false statement during the acquisition of a firearm.  According to the affidavit, on January 8, 2016, Olivarri provided a false address on the ATF Form 4473 when purchasing a 9mm pistol from a local firearms dealer.  Upon conviction, Olivarri faces up to five years in federal prison.

Brown is charged by a federal criminal complaint with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  According to the affidavit, on March 10, 2016, Brown was found in possession of a .40 caliber handgun.  His criminal history reveals a 2008 felony conviction in Bell County for Tampering or Fabricating Physical Evidence.  Upon conviction, he faces up to ten years imprisonment.

During this investigation, authorities seized approximately two pounds of “crystal” methamphetamine, several  ounces of heroin, approximately ½ pound of cocaine, several pounds of marijuana; approximately $45,000 in U.S. Currency; and between 10-15 firearms.  Previously, authorities have seized approximately one kilogram of “crystal” methamphetamine and smaller amounts of cocaine and marijuana.

All of the defendants remain in federal custody.  Detention hearings are expected to occur over the next two weeks before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Manske in Waco.

It is important to note that a criminal complaint is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

This case resulted from an investigation conducted by the DEA and the FBI together with the Texas Department of Public Safety, Temple Police Department, United States Marshals Service, Texas Department of Criminal Justice Office of Inspector General and the Bell County Task Force.  Assistant United States Attorneys Stephanie Smith-Burris and Chris Blanton are prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.

Topic: 
Drug Trafficking
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated March 10, 2016