Federal authorities arrested 21 individuals yesterday, including several Central Texans, on federal drug trafficking charges, announced U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux, Houston Division and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Texas, two separate federal grand jury indictments charge those arrested as well as 14 other individuals who were already in custody prior to yesterday (*).
Indictment #1 – U.S. v. Beck, et al.
Karl Beck, age 42 of Austin;
Victor Penaloza-Calderon (aka Alberto Espino-Bustos), a 36-year-old Mexican National residing in Houston;
Craig Neely, age 45 of Austin;
*Bobby Hale, age 34 of Giddings;
Michael Peterson, age 38 of Killeen;
Elias Loza Jr, age 43 of Austin;
Reginald Thomas, age 51 of Kyle;
*Stephanie Shires, age 44 of Georgetown;
*Stephen Penberg, age 37 of Austin;
*Clinton Johnson, age 37 of Austin;
*Shawn Malmquist, age 30 of Cedar Park;
Amy Rogers, age 39 of Austin;
*Cody Richards, age 30 of Liberty Hill;
*Anthony Lones II, age 36 of Cedar Park;
Victoria Manning, age 33 of Austin;
Laurel Yurchick, age 46 of Shreveport, Louisiana;
*Richard Zamora, age 44 of Austin;
*Adrianne Spence, age 35 of Austin;
*Joshua Cherry, age 29 of Austin;
Joshua Bailey, age 43 of Austin;
Leonard Cantrell, age 34 of Elgin;
*Jeffrey Sparks, age 38 of Manor;
Daylin Lopez-Iglesias, age 31 of Pasadena;
Hallie Shaw, age 36 of Austin;
Rita Islas, a 39-year-old Mexican National residing in Nacogdoches;
Madison Mitchell, age 19 of Austin; and,
*Hilda Gutierrez-Benitez, age 37 of Austin.
The above defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury in Austin and are charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute kilogram quantities of methamphetamine in Texas and elsewhere from August 2019 to March 2021.
Beck, Penaloza-Calderon, Neely, Hale, Peterson, Loza and Thomas face between 10 years to life in federal prison upon conviction of the drug charge based on the amount of methamphetamine involved, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Texas.
The remaining defendants face between five to 40 years in federal prison upon conviction of the drug charge based on the amount of methamphetamine involved.
In addition, Beck, Penaloza-Calderon, Neely, Hale, Zamora, Islas and Mitchell are also charged with one count of money laundering.
They face up to 20 years in federal prison upon conviction of the money laundering charge.
Prior to yesterday, authorities say they seized 65 kilograms of methamphetamine and more than $49,000 and other assets attributable to this drug trafficking organization.
Yesterday, authorities seized approximately seven kilograms of methamphetamine, one kilogram of cocaine, a dozen firearms and $20,000 attributable to this organization, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Texas.
The DEA, FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Austin, Cedar Park Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Hays County Sheriff’s Office and the Austin Police Department conducted this investigation.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation named Operation Glass Joe.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel D. Guess is prosecuting this case.
Indictment #2 – U.S. v. Riggs, et al.
Monty Lane Riggs, age 66 of San Saba;
Suni Wynn Rogers, age 39 of Richland Springs;
*Dude Edward Beabout, age 63 of Kempner;
Joseph Martinez Mafnas, age 28 of Florence;
*Ashley Jo Wiggins, age 33 of Killeen;
Shawnwilliam Songao Santos, age 48 of Florence;
Marylee Manfas Santos, age 48 of Florence; and,
Vincent Lee Presto, age 48 of Harker Heights.
Another indictment was handed down by a federal grand jury sitting in Austin, which charged the above defendants with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired since April 2019 to distribute methamphetamine in the central Texas area, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Texas.
Prior to yesterday, seizures by law enforcement attributed to this drug trafficking organization included approximately 18 kilograms of methamphetamine and 25 firearms.
During yesterday’s arrests, authorities seized an additional two firearms.
All the defendants face between 10 years and life in federal prison upon conviction, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Texas said.
The DEA, Austin Police Department, Georgetown Police Department, Cedar Park Police Department, Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office, Bell County Sheriff’s Office, Burnet County Sheriff’s Office, Llano County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney Offices from the 33rd and 424th Judicial Districts conducted this OCDETF investigation called Operation Island Time.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Marshall is prosecuting this case.
“These arrests conclude a comprehensive investigation by the DEA and our partners into the criminal activities of a dangerous poly drug trafficking organization,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Comeaux. “With these arrests, key command and control elements of this criminal organization’s leadership have been apprehended and removed from the communities they sought to prey upon.”
“The drugs trafficked by the defendants destroy families, neighborhoods and communities,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Combs. “The FBI is committed to working with our local, state and federal partners to keep this poison off the streets and holding those who profit from selling it accountable.”
It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.