DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Thirty members of an alleged methamphetamine distribution ring have been charged with drug crimes, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox announced Thursday.
Twenty-one of the 30 defendants were arrested Wednesday in “Operation Ice Tank,” led by DEA Dallas’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Group.READ MORE: Mansfield Police Officer Randy Watson Out Of Hospital After Losing Leg In Motorcycle Crash 3 Weeks Ago
Five were bonded over from state custody and four remain fugitives.
All 30 were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.
According to a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday, the ring was allegedly led by Johnny Ray Rodriguez, Jr., the 30-year-old owner of Funky Town Swag, a Fort Worth clothing store.
During the arrests, investigators seized 16 kilograms of methamphetamine, 9 ounces of heroin, and nine firearms.
“A highly-addictive and dangerous stimulant, methamphetamine has plagued North Texas communities for far too long.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the DEA are determined to root out large-scale distribution operations like this one,” said Cox.
“Methamphetamine trafficking has no place in Tarrant County,” stated Special Agent in Charge Eduardo A. Chavez of the DEA Dallas Field Division. “Individuals and organizations who not only distribute this poison in our communities, but also endanger innocent lives by converting liquid meth to crystals in makeshift laboratories cannot be tolerated. The DEA and our partners from Fort Worth, Haltom City, and North Richland Hills, remain committed to neighborhoods free from the scourge of illicit drugs.”
Rodriguez – aided by his cousin, 31-year-old Jonathan Rodriguez, Jonathan’s girlfriend, 31-year-old Chelsea Ann Pineiro, and 33-year-old Yvette Gonzalez – allegedly attempted to erect a meth conversion lab inside a residence in Fort Worth. Inside the kitchen of the home, agents discovered 27 igloo coolers, a bucket of methylsulfonylmethane (a horse vitamin often used as a cutting agent), three jugs of acetone, one container of liquid meth, and two containers of crystal meth.
They also found several zip-top baggies of crystal meth stashed inside the washing machine and a loaded revolver in the master bedroom.
Investigators collectively recovered 8 kilograms of methamphetamine from inside the residence.
Based on surveillance, multiple wiretaps, and interviews with cooperators, investigators determined that dealers working for Rodriguez allegedly distributed kilogram quantities of crystal meth out of Funky Town’s back office as well as several trap houses, a local motel, and a car wash.
If convicted, each defendant faces up to 40 years in federal prison.READ MORE: President Biden Visits Houston In Wake Of Texas' Devastating Winter Storms
Charged defendants include:
· Johnny Ray Rodriguez
· Jonathan Rodriguez, conversion lab operator
· Chelsea Ann Pineiro, conversion lab operator
· Yvette Gonzales, delivered equipment to conversion lab
· Norma Casio, meth courier for Jonny Ray Rodriguez
· Israel Rodriguez, meth courier for Jonny Ray Rodriguez
· Derrick Fannin, multi kilogram-customer and dealer
· Montreal Robinson, meth courier for Fannin
· Michael Johnson, multi kilogram-customer and dealer
· Nathan Cook, meth courier for Johnson
· Enrique Faz, multi-kilogram customer
· Roshua White, multi-kilogram customerMORE NEWS: Texas Top State Expressing Need On Twitter For Next Stimulus Check