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Feds Arrest 22 Alleged Members Of The Gulf Cartel

DALLAS — Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)arrested 22 alleged members of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel Tuesday.

The arrests were made as part of “Project Reckoning,” a multi-agency operation led by the DEA that specifically targeted suspected members of the Gulf Cartel. It involved acoordinated effort withhundreds of international, federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.

DEA officials said the Gulf Cartel is responsible for smuggling multi-ton quantities of cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin and marijuana from Colombia, Guatemala, Panama and Mexico to the U.S. Members of the cartel operating in the U.S. are responsible forthe distribution of the narcotics within the country, officials added.

The arrests were made public after two federal indictments were unsealed, according to Richard B. Roper, the U.S. Attorney for the northern district of Texas; and James L. Capra, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Dallas division.

According to a news release,law enforcement officers executed several search warrants at various locations in north Texas. The searchesresulted in the seizure of more than $1 million, 300 kilograms of cocaine, 400 pounds of methamphetamines, 20 weapons and various explosive devices.

“The operation was an unprecedented success in north Texas,” said Roper, “resulting in the largest combined seizure — ever — of money and drugs at one time.”

Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the DEA announced the nationwide results of the operation, a 15-month investigation that combined several enforcement actions involving individuals with close ties to the Gulf Cartel into one centrally-coordinated effort.

Officialssaid 175suspects were arrestedTuesday throughout the U.S. and Italy on charges related to Gulf Cartel operations. “Theoperation hassignificantly disrupted the Gulf Cartel’s transportation and distribution networks,” said Capra.

“Project Reckoning” has resulted in the arrest of 507suspects and the seizure of approximately $60.1 million inAmerican currency, more than 16,000 kilograms of cocaine, more than 1000 pounds of methamphetamines, 19 pounds of heroin, more than 51,000 pounds of marijuana, 176 vehicles and 167 weapons.

In Texas, “Project Reckoning” was split into two action plans: “Operation Dos Equis” and “Operation Vertigo.” The former concentrated onthe organization and distribution of Mexican cocaine dealers, officials said. “Vertigo” wasaninvestigation into a methamphetamine distribution organization that operated throughout the U.S.

As part of “Dos Equis”, a federal grand jury indicted and charged 21 suspects with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and Distribution of More Than Five Kilograms of Cocaine, and Money Laundering according to DOJ officials.

The following defendants were arrested as part of ”Operation Dos Equis:”

1. Hector Omero Rodriguez, a/k/a “Guero,” a/k/a “Papalote,” 34, of Allen, Texas.

2. Lazaro Fernando Rodriguez, 28, of Dallas.

3. Mark Anthony Mcaleer, a/k/a “Chapulin,” 28, of Dallas.

4. Sergio Diaz, 38, of Dallas.

5. Ava Corinna Moreno, 18, of Dallas.

6. Vincent Ramirez, a/k/a “Pterodactyl”

7. Vicente Arcenio Lira, a/k/a “Chente,” 27, of Dallas.

8. Tarus Shaynard Murray, a/k/a “T,” 31, of Grand Prairie, Texas.

9. Gabriella Moreno, 19.

10. Vanessa Ramirez Padilla, 24.

11. Juan Manuel Martinez, 38, of Dallas.

12. Rigoberto Mata, Jr., 43, of Laredo, Texas.

Officials said several suspects named in the indictment were already in state custody on related charges. They areJuan Manuel Hernandez, 32; Frederick R. Kay, 47; and FNU LNU,also known as”Pistolero,” of Dallas;and Uriel Palacios, 22.

Palacios was arrested on September 1, 2008, in Dallas on unrelated charges and is presently in state custody. Five suspets, including28-year-oldRaul Reyes, of Laredo, Texas, remain fugitives, DOJ officials said.

“Operation Vertigo” resulted in the arrest of eleven suspects whowere charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and Distribution of MoreThan 500 grams of methamphetamines.

The suspects arrestedas part of theoperation are:

1. Angel Hernandez, 34, of Desoto, Texas.

2. Ana Cornelio, 40, of Duncanville, Texas.

3. Israel Vasquez, 38, of Cedar Hill, Texas.

4. Efrain Vasquez, 29, of Dallas, Texas.

5. Juan Chavez, 41, of Duncanville, Texas.

6. Irving Cornelio Reynoso, 19, of Duncanville, Texas.

7. Grady Smith, 36, of Dallas, Texas.

8. Darren Price, 48, of Cedar Hill, Texas.

9. Becky Panya, 30, of Dallas, Texas.

10. Robert Woods, 43, of Dallas, Texas.

Defendant Jose Juan Hernandez, 38, of Desoto, Texas, is presently in custody in California. Angel Hernandez, Ana Cornelio and Israel Vasquez, are also each charged with one count of Money Laundering and were named ina forfeiture allegation which would require them to forfeit residences belonging to them upon conviction.

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