Local authorities bust West Texas meth ring
Jun 28, 2013 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Local law enforcement officials say they have dismantled a methamphetamine ring that involved a conspiracy by members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas and the Mexican Mafia to funnel the highly addictive drug into the West Texas from Dallas.
The Drug Enforcement Administration in Midland and Midland police began the investigation early last year, spurred by an increase in meth here and "intelligence indicating that the Aryan Brotherhood Texas wanted to try and control the meth distribution in the Permian Basin," according to DEA Resident Agent in Charge Dante Sorianello in Midland.
By the time the 15-month probe ended on Wednesday, law enforcement officials had arrested 43 people from Midland, Odessa and Dallas who face a range of drug charges. They also reported seizing more than $72,000 in assets, 12 guns, more than 4.7 kilograms of meth along with lesser amounts of cocaine and marijuana, according to a statement from the DEA. Most of the suspects were from Midland and Odessa, Sorianello said.
"We had basically an undercover operation targeting these guys, and periodically we'd hit these guys, then develop them and hit other guys," Sorianello said. "And on and on and on."
The accused ringleaders are the Dallas brothers Randy and Ramon Perez, who were arrested on April 18, the DEA reported. Federal complaints against the pair cite a confidential informant and several cooperating defendants who helped agents build their case, which also included surveillance, that the men sold large amounts of meth.
Many details were forthcoming, tucked into many separate filings of Midland District Court. The cases have been prosecuted incrementally rather than in one large conspiracy case.
"There were people working together, but it was not a cohesive group of 43 people," said Assistant U.S. Attorney LaTawn Warsaw, one of the prosecutors. "It was 43 people who were linked to each other either directly or indirectly."
Most crime the probe uncovered happened in Odessa, Sorianello said, calling it "the heart of all drug trafficking in the area."
Additional agencies involved in the case included the FBI, Homeland Security, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the DEA in Dallas.
Contact Corey Paul on Twitter @OAcrime on Facebook at OA Corey Paul or call 432-333-7768.
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