LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Seventeen people have been charged in a federal firearms and drug trafficking ring in East Texas.
U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced the arrests Monday in Longview. Officers are still searching for fugitive James Fountain, in connection with the case.
According to indictments returned by a federal grand jury on March 16, the defendants were allegedly involved in conspiracies by members of the Aryan Brotherhood and other criminal street gangs to violate federal firearms and narcotics laws in the Gregg County area.
The defendants are charged with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine in the area, dating back to January 2014. The attorney's office says many of the defendants are also charged with firearms violations. During the operation, officials seized more than 15 firearms and 650 grams of methamphetamine.
"Our specific goal was not only to put a dent in the methamphetamine trafficking in this area, our specific goal was to target violent offenders," Bales said.
The attorney could not confirm if the arrests were linked to recent murders or arson cases in the area, but said that it was possible the drug crimes were fueling other incidents. Bales said that officers hope the arrests will lead to more arrests in larger metropolitan areas, such as Dallas.
Bales also asked residents with information to step forward.
"Longview is a great place to live, a great place to raise families," Bales said. "But we're having a problem right now ... You want to do something to reclaim your community, do it. Step forward."
Those named in the indictments from Longview include:
- Monty James Wood, 51;
- Haley Still, 29;
- Courtney Crim-Gross, 39;
- James Todd Harrington Jr., 34;
- David Wayne Williams, 30;
- Chad David Dunaway, 23;
- Brandon Scott Cheatum, 34;
- Brandon Michael Allen, 31;
- Jason Ray Ragan, 26;
- Erick Lamar Addison, 37;
- James Lamar Fountain, 34 (still at large);
- Charles Tarez Rollins, 41;
- Alvin Lee Thompson, 42;
- Kenneth Ray Addison, 41;
- Gloria Aguilar and
- Gena Elizabeth Rowley, 36.
Timothy Paul Morales, 23, of Galveston was also indicted.
If convicted, the defendants face penalties of from five years to life in prison.
Bales praised the efforts of law enforcement officers involved in the case. Multiple agencies, including the attorney's office, the ATF, the FBI, the DEA, the Longview Police Department and the Gregg County Sheriff's Office, participated in the operation.