Arrests made last Friday in Texas have dealt a blow to illegal drug trafficking operations that reach all the way from Mexico to the U.S. East Coast.
At a press conference April 12 in Beaumont, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas John Malcolm Bales announced that through Operation South Parkth11 individuals were indicted for their involvement in a major cocaine distribution ring responsible for money laundering and trafficking drugs throughout the district and that eight individuals were taken into custody.
Bales said the drugs are being trafficked from Mexican cartels through Brownsville to Houston and the Beaumont-Port Arthur area. From there, the drugs are going to points in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Baltimore for distribution.
He said the arrests and indictments have put a “significant kink in their (drug trafficking) hose.”
“This case is a very big deal,” Bales said. “We are determined to dismantle these cartels, and we won’t give up.”
Bales said the operation has taken down “high level” traffickers, not low-level dealers or drivers.
The individuals named in the indictments are:
Jerry Trevino, 46, of Spring
Alvin Nelson, 60, of Houston
Thomas Drew Widak, 44, of Houston
Cesar Alvarez-Barrera, 43, of Tomball
Eduardo Silva, 39, or Roma
Juan Javier Correa, 53, of McAllen
Douglas Francis Waindel, 29, of Atlanta, Ga.
Jaime Luis Vivero-Flores, 46, of Houston
Jesus Amaya-Saenz, 29, of Hockley
Alfredo Soto-Valdez, 39, of Austin
Sandra Calderon Martinez, 31, of Houston
Among those arrested Friday were Barrera and Trevino, who are believed to be leaders in major drug trafficking operations.
Correa, Amaya-Saenz and Martinez are still at large.
The case is the result of the work of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and a joint investigation by U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, Homeland Security Investigations, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Port Arthur Police Department, the Houston Police Department, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“One thing that has made this operation special is the cooperation between all the agencies involved," Bales said.
Operation South Park has already resulted in 50 arrests and taken $3.5 million in drugs off the streets.
“To others in this business, we will find you,” Bales said. “You will spend a very long time in prison. And don’t think your friends won’t talk, because they will.”