Multi-Agency Investigation Takes Down Meth Distribution Ring
WACO – A multi-agency investigation into a methamphetamine distribution ring has led to multiple defendants being indicted and arrested.
On June 14, 2022, a federal grand jury sitting in Waco handed down five indictments charging a total of 27 defendants.
The following defendants were each charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute at least 500 grams of methamphetamine. According to the indictments the conspiracy began in January 2021.
Charged in W22CR095: Jason Fletcher, 38, of Belton and Luis Guillermo Martinez, 28, of Waco. If convicted, Fletcher and Martinez face up to life in prison.
Charged in W22CR096: Karen Pendola Bennett, 45, of Waco; Jesus Espinoza Lopez, 33, of Waco; Patricia Nelson, 49, of Waco; Robert Johnson, 46, of Woodway; and Clayton Wilkins, 62, of Waco. If convicted, Bennett, Lopez, Nelson and Johnson face up to life in prison. Wilkins, if convicted, faces up to 40 years in prison.
Charged in W22CR109: Alejandro Solis, 32, of Waco; Jesus Castellanos-Renteria, 39, of Houston; Gustavo Alvarado Guerrero, 29, of Waco; William Charles Herrera, 30, of Waco; Maria Picon, 35, of Clifton; Rogers Anthony Marshall, 49, of Valley Mills; Denecia Alley, 32, of Waco; Jovita Ibarra, 28, of Waco; Lance John Showen, 51, of Waco; Hector Dominguez, 31, of Waco; Nicholas Ray Ramirez, 41, of Waco; Flocelo Mondragon Jr., 35, of McGregor; Alfred Turner, 28, of Waco; Areli Martinez Torrez, 38, of McGregor; Alexxus Briann Arocha, 26, of Waco; Felix Alberto Huezo-Hernandez, 33, of Waco; Sonya Renee Hughes, 44, of Waco; and Steven Merritt, 52, of Bruceville-Eddy. If convicted, Arocha, Huezo, Hughes and Merritt face up to 40 years in prison. All other defendants, if convicted, face up to life in prison.
Marshall and Picon are also charged with one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a federal drug trafficking crime. If convicted, they face up to five years in prison to run consecutive to any other sentence they receive.
Not charged with the conspiracy drug count is Able Chavez, 25, of Waco. Chavez is charged in W22CR094 with one count of possession with intent to distribute at least 500 grams of methamphetamine and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. If convicted, Chavez faces up to life in prison on the drug count and up to five years in prison on the gun count to run consecutive to any other sentence he receives.
Also not charged with the conspiracy drug count is Andrew Ochoa, 36, of Waco. Ochoa is charged in W22CR093 with one count of making a false statement in acquisition of a firearm. If convicted, Ochoa faces up to 10 years in prison. Investigation revealed Ochoa was purchasing and delivering firearms to a 13-year-old child.
All defendants have been arrested except for Karen Pendola Bennett who remains a fugitive in this case.
U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff of the Western District of Texas; FBI Special Agent in Charge Oliver E. Rich Jr., San Antonio Division; Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Daniel Comeaux, Houston Division; Waco Police Department Chief of Police Sheryl D. Victorian; McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara; Bell County Sheriff Eddy Lange; and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Regional Director Todd H. Snyder made the announcement.
The FBI; DEA; Waco Police Department; McLennan County Sheriff’s Office; Bell County Sheriff’s Office; and DPS are investigating the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Smith-Burris is prosecuting the cases.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.