Thursday, July 14, 2011

Feds arrest 16 people on drug charges

Feds arrest 16 people on drug charges:

Police say they are with Texas Mexican Mafia

Doug Shupe

AUSTIN (KXAN) - A major arrest has been made after a federal indictment was unsealed Thursday.

18 men and one woman one woman were slapped with federal drug charges---two were already behind bars the other 16 caught in Central Texas early Thursday morning.

FBI agents say they are Austin-based Texas Mexican Mafia members or associated with that group.

Those arrested include:

* Michael Morin, 44
* Ruben Flores, 44
* David Jeffery Torres, 37
* David Samarripa, 32
* Michael Martinez, 36
* Edward Zuniga, 34
* David Romo, 59
* Domingo Mendieta, 41
* Juan Manuel Pierce, 58
* Nickolas Estrada, 45
* Crystal Elizabeth Morin, 31
* Ernesto Lopez, 60
* Daniel Camacho Gonzales, 45
* Luis Gerardo Salazar, 24
* Jose Eduardo Placencia, 39
* Arnulfo Perez-Torres, 51
* Patrick James Cruz, 27, and Eloy Davila, 53, were also indicted and were already in custody

The feds' investigation into their activities has been ongoing since April of 2009.

"The FBI and every other law enforcement agencies view the Mexican Mafia as the distinct ongoing threat that it is. This is a prison gang that spilled out into the community and continues to operate," said FBI Spokesman Eric Vasys.

Vasys said Thursday's raid should send a strong message.

"Every city has it and law enforcement will always be there to chop the head off until it grows back," said Vasys.

Thursday morning the FBI along with Austin Police, DPS and numerous other law enforcement agencies captured 16 people in Austin, Pflugerville and Sequin.

During the raid agents say they collected guns, cash and suspected drugs-- including heroin, cocaine, crack marijuana and methamphetamine.

"We know and feel very strongly that Mexican Mafia and other prison gangs are a direct threat to the United States that's why we address them so aggressively," said Vasys.

In the McKinney Park East neighborhood, neighbors heard the agents bust into the door of this home on Walkup Lane to take a man into custody.

A woman who lives in the home on Walkup Lane where one of the arrests occurred told us she thought authorities had the wrong house but would not comment further.

One of her neighbors however told us off camera they are a very nice family, so this arrest did surprise him.

But federal agents say in most cases--information from the community makes these raids successful.

"The partnership is very simple. The citizen in the neighborhood sees something they don't like and report it to the police officer. Some of these crimes are handled immediately, some of these crimes become larger organizational crimes as the case with the Mexican Mafia. This case started through a little bit of information through one individual," said Vasys.

The indictments against the 18 people are just charges and they should not be considered as evidence of guilt.

All those people charged will have their day in court and if convicted, will face between ten years and life in federal prison.

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