Terry County arrest pictured left to right: Shad Evans, Jesus “Jesse” Franco, and Robert “Roberto” Melendez

TownTalk has obtained a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Texas about the 20 arrest made in a suspected drug trafficking and cash smuggling ring.

In a collaborative effort spearheaded by the Caprock HIDTA (Hi-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Task Force, and the Texas (Lubbock) Anti-Gang Center (TAG), 20 individuals are in federal custody on a federal criminal indictment for a drug trafficking conspiracy, announced Erin Nealy Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.  Those defendants arrested yesterday or in custody on other charges are:

Jose Garcia-Lizanaga, also known as “Chepe”, 43, Lubbock

Jorge Luis Lizarraga-Tirado, also known as “Luis” or “Barba”, 30, Mexican citizen

Antonio Alvarez, Jr., also known as “Tony”, 42, Lubbock

Eduardo Agustin Cruz, also known as “Lalo”, 41, Lubbock

Robert Lee Melendez, also known as “Roberto”, 26, Meadow

Jesus Marcus Franco, also known as “Jesse”, 34, Brownfield

Juana Sanchez, also known as “Juana Salazar” or “Jaime”, 41, Littlefield

Richard David Hupper, also known as “Piraton”, 42, Pennsylvania

Andrew Doyal Pugh, 29, Alabama

Gregory Holleman, also known as “G”, 50, Lubbock

Saul Chavira-Molina, 25, Kansas

Jermaine Edgar Garmon, 40, Lubbock

Shad Everett Evans, 42, Brownfield

Arturo Sanchez, 39, Lubbock

Petra Maria Sauceda-Perez, also known as “Aunt” or “Tia”, 38, Fabens, Texas

Kim Herrera, 27, Lubbock

Jessica Angel Deleon, 34, Lubbock

Broderick Bradley, 35, Lubbock

Ambrosio Garcia, Jr., also known as “Bocho”, 33, Lubbock

Ambrosio Garcia-Rodriguez, Sr., 58, Mexican citizen

U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox Image Credit: justice.gov

“This is just an example of the amazing results that have come, and will come, by uniting federal, state, and local law enforcement in fighting drug trafficking in West Texas.  By adopting the ‘one mission, one team’ approach to narcotics, violent crime, and gang enforcement, the HIDTA and TAG will produce exceptional results for the people of the South Plains,” stated U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox.

The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Lubbock, Texas earlier this month, and unsealed yesterday, charging 20 individuals in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana; distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, cocaine base, and marijuana; unlawful use of a communications facility; and bulk cash smuggling.  Fifteen of those defendants were arrested yesterday, five were already in custody at the Lubbock County Detention Center on related state charges.

As a result of this operation, law enforcement seized approximately one pound of cocaine, five pounds of hydroponic marijuana, five firearms, twelve vehicles, and a recreational vehicle.

Most of the defendants arrested will make their initial appearances in federal court before United States Magistrate Judge D. Gordon Bryant, Jr.

According to the indictment, the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and other illegal narcotics throughout West Texas and elsewhere.  The indictment further alleges that from approximately January 2018 through June 2018, the defendants conspired together, and with others, to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine; five kilograms or more of cocaine, and marijuana.

            A federal criminal indictment is a written statement of the essential facts of the offense charged.  A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after a review of the federal sentencing guidelines and factors unique to the case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.

            The Caprock HIDTA Task Force and TAG are comprised of agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office, and the Lubbock Police Department.  The United States Marshals Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Homeland Security Investigations-Enforcement and Removal Operations, the Hockley County Sheriff’s Office, the Terry County Sheriff’s Office, the Brownfield Police Department, and the Levelland Police Department rendered invaluable assistance in the operation.  The Drug Enforcement Administration offices in Midland and El Paso, and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office were instrumental in assisting with those individuals located in other jurisdictions.

            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Long.