Federal and state authorities arrested three citizens of Mexico today for their roles in a methamphetamine and heroin distribution operation, announced U.S. Attorney Gregg N. Sofer and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Steven S. Whipple, Houston Division.
Those arrested today include: 27-year-old Daisy Menera and 22-year-old Jose Adam Alejandre-Navarro in Houston, TX; 46-year-old Manuel Montoya, in San Angelo, TX.
A federal grand jury indictment unsealed today charges those arrested, along with three other citizens of Mexico who were already in custody prior to today, with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin. The other indicted defendants include: 47-year-old Marco Antonio Morales-Perez, 23-year-old Christopher Valenzuela Ramirez, and 44-year-old Israel Villegas Alcantar.
The indictment alleges that under the leadership of Morales-Perez, this organization was responsible for the coordination and distribution of over 80 kilograms of methamphetamine from Mexico to San Antonio and other areas in South Texas from June 2018 to February 2020. According to the indictment, Morales-Perez coordinated narcotics deliveries from within the Great Plains Correctional Institution in Hinton, OK, using contraband cell phones smuggled into the facility by way of drones.
“The idea that Mexican nationals can sell poison to Texans using drones and smuggled cell phones while serving time in a U.S. prison should worry us all. As transnational criminal organizations become more sophisticated, law enforcement must be given the support, tools, and resources to stop them. Thanks to the combined efforts of our partners in the DEA, FBI, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, and the San Antonio Police Department, these defendants will now be held accountable,” stated U.S. Attorney Sofer.
“Methamphetamine and heroin are vicious drugs that continue to cause horrific damage in too many of our communities,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Whipple. “These indictments and arrests, as part of Operation Shawshank, conclude a 28-month investigation and demonstrate the level of sophistication utilized by the criminal organizations and the challenges faced by law enforcement. The coordination and management of drug trafficking from within a correctional facility by these subjects underscores this and it is only through the professionalism of law enforcement on both sides of the border that these successes can be achieved.”
To date, authorities have seized approximately 70 kilograms of methamphetamine and seven kilograms of heroin attributable to this drug trafficking organization.
Upon conviction, defendants face between ten years and life in federal prison. All of those arrested today remain in federal custody. Detention hearings are expected to occur next week in U.S. Magistrate Court in San Antonio.
The DEA, FBI, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office and the San Antonio Police Department are conducting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Texas Department of Public Safety, Leon Valley Police Department, Hollywood Park Police Department, Castle Hills Police Department and Live Oak Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Fuchs is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.
The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering operations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
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.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.