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35 indicted in two separate Central Texas drug trafficking busts

Authorities seized more than 90 kilograms of drugs and dozens of firearms from two alleged drug trafficking organizations.
Credit: KVUE

AUSTIN, Texas — Federal authorities arrested 21 people believed to be involved in drug trafficking on Thursday, according to the Department of Justice. All of them were indicted on federal drug trafficking charges. Fourteen people who were already in custody were also indicted. The indictments involve two separate drug trafficking organizations.

“These arrests conclude a comprehensive investigation by the DEA and our partners into the criminal activities of a dangerous poly drug trafficking organization,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Daniel Comeaux said in a news release Friday. “With these arrests, key command and control elements of this criminal organization’s leadership have been apprehended and removed from the communities they sought to prey upon.”

In the first drug bust, a federal grand jury in Austin indicted the following people on one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute kilogram quantities of methamphetamine:

  • Karl Beck, 42, of Austin
  • Victor Penaloza-Calderon (aka Alberto Espino-Bustos), 36, Mexican National residing in Houston
  • Craig Neely, 45, of Austin
  • Bobby Hale, 34, of Giddings
  • Michael Peterson, 38, of Killeen
  • Elias Loza Jr., 43, of Austin
  • Reginald Thomas, 51, of Kyle
  • Stephanie Shires, 44, of Georgetown
  • Stephen Penberg, 37, of Austin
  • Clinton Johnson, 37, of Austin
  • Shawn Malmquist, 30, of Cedar Park
  • Amy Rogers, 39, of Austin
  • Cody Richards, 30, of Liberty Hill
  • Anthony Lones II, 36, of Cedar Park
  • Victoria Manning, 33, of Austin
  • Laurel Yurchick, 46, of Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Richard Zamora, 44, of Austin
  • Adrianne Spence, 35, of Austin
  • Joshua Cherry, 29, of Austin
  • Joshua Bailey, 43, of Austin
  • Leonard Cantrell, 34, of Elgin
  • Jeffrey Sparks, 38, of Manor
  • Daylin Lopez-Iglesias, 31, of Pasadena
  • Hallie Shaw, 36, of Austin
  • Rita Islas, 39, Mexican National residing in Nacogdoches
  • Madison Mitchell, 19, of Austin
  • Hilda Gutierrez-Benitez, 37, of Austin

Investigators believe the people involved in this drug bust had the intent to distribute methamphetamine in Texas and elsewhere from August 2019 to March 2021. Authorities seized about seven kilograms of methamphetamine, one kilogram of cocaine, a dozen firearms and $20,000 from this organization on Thursday. Before Thursday, the Department of Justice said authorities seized 65 kilograms of methamphetamine and more than $49,000 and other assets that were attributable to this alleged drug trafficking organization. 

This effort was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation named "Operation Glass Joe." According to a news release, OCDEFT "identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach."

The DEA, FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Austin, Cedar Park Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Hays County Sheriff’s Office and the Austin Police Department conducted this investigation. 

If convicted, Beck, Penaloza-Calderon, Neely, Hale, Peterson, Loza and Thomas could face from 10 years to life in federal prison based on the amount of methamphetamine involved. All of the other defendants could face from five to 40 years in federal prison if they are convicted. Beck, Penaloza-Calderon, Neely, Hale, Zamora, Islas and Mitchell are also charged with one count of money laundering and could face up to 20 years in federal prison if they are convicted.

In a separate drug bust, a federal grand jury in Austin indicted the following people on one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine: 

  • Monty Lane Riggs, 66, of San Saba
  • Suni Wynn Rogers, 39, of Richland Springs
  • Dude Edward Beabout, 63, of Kempner
  • Joseph Martinez Mafnas, 28, of Florence
  • Ashley Jo Wiggins, 33, of Killeen
  • Shawnwilliam Songao Santos, 48, of Florence
  • Marylee Manfas Santos, 48, of Florence
  • Vincent Lee Presto, 48, of Harker Heights

If convicted, these defendants could face from 10 years to life in federal prison. They are accused of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine in the Central Texas area since April 2019. 

This effort was part of an OCDETF investigation called "Operation Island Time." The DEA, Austin Police Department, Georgetown Police Department, Cedar Park Police Department, Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office, Bell County Sheriff’s Office, Burnet County Sheriff’s Office, Llano County Sheriff’s Office and the district attorney offices from the 33rd and 424th Judicial Districts were all involved in this investigation.

Before Thursday, law enforcement officials seized about 18 kilograms of methamphetamine and 25 firearms. During Thursday's arrests, authorities also seized two more firearms.

WATCH: 'Operation Spyder Web': Current, former UT students arrested in drug trafficking operation

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