Austin is no longer a “sleepy college town,” according to Police Chief Art Acevedo.
Austin Police and the U.S. Attorney's office say as Austin grows, so does the risk of drug trafficking. Today, they announced two big busts – one involving a year-and-a-half investigation into a cartel-connected cocaine ring and another that yielded over 20 pounds of methamphetamine.
In one case, police seized 13 kilos of cocaine, over a million dollars in cash and four firearms from Joe Hernandez, Michael Vallejo and Sergio Guzman last month. They say all three men had ties to the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas.
U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman says Austin continues to be a hub for drug trafficking.
“When you take down an organization like this, when you disrupt it and you take these people off the street and when you put them in federal prison for twenty years or life, you’re benefiting everyone who is upstream from that. So it’s Dallas, Chicago and points beyond,” Pitman says.
Police also arrested Mario Navarro Almazan, Reyna Alejo, Raul Vallejo-Martinez and Luis Pocasangre-Cardoza with just over 20 pounds of methamphetamine, nearly nine ounces of cocaine and over $28,000 in cash, as well as three pistols, an automatic pistol and an inert hand grenade.
Pitman says suspects will face anywhere from a minimum of 10 years to life in federal prison. Suspects have been arraigned and the U.S. Attorney’s office expects trials to begin in July or August.
Police Chief Art Acevedo praised the efforts between local and federal law enforcement, calling the investigations “seamless.”
“We’ll be able to keep down the supply here, in Central Texas and the other distribution points,” Acevedo says. “But the most important thing means that we have law enforcement entities that are going to continue to make this a priority.”