Sixteen arrested in East Texas drug trafficking sting

From the U.S. Attorney's Office:

TYLER, TX - U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced today that 16 individuals have been arrested following a lengthy investigation into drug trafficking in the Eastern District of Texas.

On Dec. 10, 2013, a combined task force of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies began arresting individuals named in a federal indictment returned by a grand jury on Nov. 20, 2013. The indictment charges the following individuals with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in the Eastern District of Texas:

Antonio Cortez Gonzales, 34, of Tyler,

Monica Hensley, 35, of Longview,

Guillermo Ortiz-Pineda, 38, of Houston,

Juan Gutierrez Mojica, 43, of Tyler,

Miriam Reyes, 41, of Houston,

Juvencio Duque, 53, of Dallas,

Mauricio Orrostieta Rodriguez, 40, of Tyler,

Alejandro Hernandez, 46, of Irving,

Ivan Sanchez, 21, of Tyler,

Esteban Avellaneda Munoz, 19, of Tyler,

Jonhyayala, 34, of Tyler,

Jesus Botello, 34, of Tyler,

Guadalupe Cuarenta, 48, of Tyler,

Sergio Mojica, 30, of Tyler,

Luis Garcia-Aguirre, 32, of Tyler, and

Ireri Pineda, xx, of Tyler.

The defendants will appear today in federal court for initial appearances. If convicted, the defendants face from 10 years to life in federal prison.

This case is the result of an ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) joint investigation. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation's illegal drug supply.

In August 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Tyler Task Force, in conjunction with multiple law enforcement agencies, initiated an OCDETF investigation into a crystal methamphetamine trafficking organization based in the East Texas area with direct ties to Mexico. The organization also distributes cocaine and marijuana. This 16 month investigation involved extensive surveillance and innovative investigative techniques. Several sources of supply for crystal methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana were identified during the course of the investigation. To date, law enforcement officials have seized multiple pounds of crystal methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana. Officers have also seized more than $158,000 cash, multiple weapons, vehicles, and real property.

"Today's enforcement operations are indicative of the DEA's commitment to rid our communities of drug trafficking organizations determined to profit on the backs of addiction," said the DEA Dallas Division's Special Agent in Charge Daniel R. Salter. "Citizens in East Texas can rest assured that the DEA and our law enforcement partners are determined to ensure that Tyler and its surrounding communities remain safe and a great place to live. The success of this investigation is an outstanding example of our law enforcement community's resolve and determination."

The DEA Task Force in Tyler includes officers from the Gregg County Sheriff's Office, Henderson County Sheriff's Office, Henderson Police Department, Kilgore Police Department, Smith County Sheriff's Office, and Upshur County Sheriff's Office, as well as DEA Special Agents.

Other agencies assisting in the joint investigation include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Department of Public Safety (DPS), Kilgore Police Department, Longview Police Department, Gregg County Sheriff's Office, Smith County Sheriff's Office, Tyler Police Department, and the Harris County Sheriff's Office. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Ann Cozby.