AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman announced Thursday that a cocaine distribution and bulk cash smuggling conspiracy ring based in Austin was busted and 19 people were arrested.
According to the indictment, G.R. Custom Body and Paint in Austin, owned by Hugo Gaspar, served as the primary distribution hub for multiple sources of cocaine smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico.
Authorities allege that in addition to distributing cocaine in Austin and surrounding communities, cocaine was transported to Houston, Dallas, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida and Alabama.
A two-count federal grand jury indictment charges the defendants with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. It also charges six of the defendants with one count of bulk cash smuggling. The operation allegedly goes back to January 2009.
The defendants face between 10 years to life in federal prison for the cocaine smuggling; under the second count of cash smuggling, they each face up to five years in federal prison.
During the investigation, authorities seized more than $1 million and approximately 120 pounds of cocaine.
A separate but related federal grand jury indictment returned last month in Austin charges Erick Rodriguez-Aguilar, 20, and Julio Ramon Sandoval-Arizmendi, 19, for their roles in the operation. Both are charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. Rodriguez and Sandoval remain in federal custody.
"Operation Treasure Lost" was an investigation that included the Drug Enforcement Administration; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations; Homeland Security Investigations;US Marshals Service; Texas Department of Public Safety; Austin Police Department; Round Rock Police Department; Travis County District Attorney's Office; Travis County Sheriff's Office; Williamson County Sheriff's Office, Hays County Sheriff's Office and Bastrop County Sheriff's Office.
Those arrested and charged include:
- Ubaldo Rodriguez-Perez, 41, Mexico -- counts 1,2
- Santos Flores-Aviles, 24, Mexico -- count 1
- Jose Francisco Gaona-Segura, 32, Mexico -- count 1,2
- Hugo Castillo Gaspar, 40, Mexico -- counts 1,2
- Abel Gaona, 34, Mexico -- count 1
- Ricardo Ramos-Munoz, 40, Mexico -- count 1
- Jerrimie Jerome Hyder, 26, U.S. -- count 1
- Francisco Javier Castillo, 28, Mexico -- counts 1,2
- Miguel Angel Elias, 40, Mexico -- count 1
- Eduardo Loza, 26, U.S. -- count 1
- Galdino Loza, 28 U.S. -- count 1
- Marlon Ramirez-Castro, 28, Mexico -- counts 1,2
- Jose Manuel Carbajal, 29, U.S. -- counts 1,2
In custody prior to Thursday's arrest:
- Santos Nieto Jamies, 35, Mexico -- count 1
- Ranferi Garcia-Jaramillo, 28, Mexico -- count 1
- Sergio Valle-Ramirez, 21, Mexico -- count 1
- Ruben Correa-Sandarte, 30, Mexico -- count 1
- Erick Rodriguez-Aguilar, 20, Mexico
- Julio Ramon Sandoval-Arizmendi, 19, Mexico
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