Multiple Austin Area Drug Trafficking Arrests in March 2018 Result in Lengthy Federal Prison Terms
In Austin yesterday, a federal judge sentenced the last of 35 defendants convicted of his role in a Austin-based drug trafficking conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney John F. Bash; Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Will Glaspy, Houston Division; Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division; IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Goss, Houston Field Office; Texas Department of Safety Director Steven McCraw; Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler; and, Cedar Park Police Chief Sean Mannix.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman sentenced 41–year-old Marquis Collins of Austin to 90 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release. Sentences for the other 34 defendants ranged from time served to 280 months (ringleader Luis Villagrana-Martinez) in federal prison.
A federal grand jury indictment unsealed in March 2018 charged the 35 defendants with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, namely methamphetamine, cocaine and/or heroin. All of the defendants eventually pleaded guilty to the drug conspiracy charge.
During the course of the conspiracy, Luis Villagrana-Martinez, age 33 of Leander, TX, and Carlos Garcia-Duarte, age 41 of Dale, TX (135 months imprisonment), were leaders of the distribution cells operating in Austin. Members of this organization utilized a local mechanic’s shop to unload, distribute, and ship drugs to sales and distribution points in Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Minnesota, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi.
During this investigation, law enforcement agents in several jurisdictions seized a combined total of approximately 148 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, some 56 gallons of liquid methamphetamine, 62 pounds of cocaine, 13 pounds of heroin, and approximately $400,000 in U.S. currency.
“The sheer number of defendants arrested in this case, across so many states and jurisdictions, proves once again that agencies working together are a tremendous force multiplier; achieving a level of success no one agency, office, or department could hope to attain alone’” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Glaspy. “DEA will continue to work closely with our counterparts whenever – and wherever – necessary to protect our communities.”
The DEA Austin Resident Office, FBI Austin, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Texas Department of Public Safety, Austin Police Department, Hays County Sheriff’s Office, and Cedar Park Police Department investigated this case.
Agencies providing assistance during this investigation include: Round Rock Police Department; Georgetown Police Department; Lakeway Police Department; Williamson County Sheriff’s Office; Travis County Sheriff’s Office; Rockwall Police Department; Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office; Travis County District Attorney’s Office; Bell County District Attorney’s Office; Williamson County District Attorney’s Office, Bastrop County District Attorney’s Office, DEA (McAllen, Milwaukee Field Office, Brownsville, Eagle Pass, Dallas Division, Houston Division and Houston SRT); FBI (McAllen); Homeland Security Investigations (Austin); U.S. Border Patrol (Del Rio Sector) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dan Guess and Matt Harding prosecuted this case (A18cr91) on behalf of the Government.