A total of 50 people are now in custody following one of the largest major law enforcement operations in South Texas in recent years, announced Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery
The crimes allegedly involve drug trafficking and related activities in the Houston and Galveston areas.
"I commend this multi-agency effort involving law enforcement agencies throughout the State of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama," said Lowery. "Their diligent efforts further our common goal of dismantling whom we believe are drug trafficking organizations by targeting their leadership and soldiers as well as intercepting narcotics and suspected ill-gotten financial gains."
During the coordinated law enforcement effort that spanned multiple jurisdictions and states, authorities took a total of 50 people into custody. The charges remain sealed as to those charged but not as yet in custody. They are considered fugitives and warrants remain outstanding for their arrests.
"This collaborative effort involving multiple law enforcement agencies both locally and nationally shows our mission is unified in apprehending those that allegedly bring drugs, crime and unrest to our communities," said Comeaux.
Those arrested in the Houston area are expected to make initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christina A. Bryan in Houston beginning at 2 p.m. today.
The charges allege the crimes occurred between Dec. 10, 2020, and Dec. 15, 2021.
The indictment, returned Feb. 10, alleges the individuals engaged in a variety of fentanyl, cocaine, meth, heroin and marijuana transactions. Some also allegedly conspired to commit money laundering and illegally transferred or transported money from the United States to Mexico to promote the illicit drug smuggling activities.
Authorities have seized more than 150 kilograms of cocaine, over 140 kilograms of meth, approximately six and 18 kilograms of heroin and fentanyl, respectively, as well more than 500 kilograms of marijuana, according to the charges.
During the operation yesterday, law enforcement also found over 100 kilograms combined of suspected cocaine, fentanyl and marijuana in addition to 39 firearms.
If convicted, some could face up to life In federal prison and pay hundreds of thousands in fines.
The arrests are the culmination of 14-month Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation (OCDETF) dubbed Operation Twisted Tea.
This OCDETF Operation was conducted by the DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Houston Police Department, the Galveston Police Department, the Pasadena Police Department, the Baytown Police Department, the Harris County Sheriff's Office, the Fort Bend Sheriff's Office, the Chambers County Sheriff's Office, the Refugio County Sheriff's Office, the Victoria County Sheriff's Office and the Harris County Precinct 2 Constable's Office. police departments in Galveston and Houston, U.S Marshals Service and Pasadena police department conducted the OCDETF operation with the assistance of sheriffs' offices in Harris, Fort Bend, Chambers, Refugio and Victoria counties; Harris County Precinct 2 Constable's Office and Baytown Police Department.
OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice's OCDETF webpage.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christine Lu, Sherin Daniel and Leo J. Leo III are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.
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