Thursday, April 11, 2013

Knights Templar Connected Drug Bust in Austin, Texas


75 kilos of meth, 10 kilos of cocaine and two kilos of heroin 
3 dozen charged with trafficking drugs through Austin

By Jazmine Ulloa

Central Texas law enforcement officials say they have busted two elaborate drug distribution networks based in Austin, one of which had ties to a powerful Mexican drug cartel and was operating out of an East Austin body shop.

JT Body and Paint 1202 Salina St owned by Jess Trevino
In a press conference Thursday morning, U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman hailed the efforts of the multi-agency task forces that brought the organizations down, saying collaboration played a strong part in dismantling the illicit activities.

Authorities have seized more than 75 kilos of meth, 10 kilos of cocaine and two kilos of heroin through the course of the investigation at JT Body and Paint. More than 20 people were arrested Wednesday, including the owner. Four have not been detained, officials said.

Greg Thrash, resident agent in charge of the Austin DEA office, said the group was a cell of the Mexican drug cartel Knights Templar and that members were taking orders from bosses in Mexico.
Greg Thrash, in charge of the Austin DEA office

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas said Jose Rodriguez-Granados was the Austin head of a large Mexican-based trafficking organization associated with the Knights Templar.

A redacted version of a federal indictment handed up by a Central Texas grand jury and unsealed Wednesday shows that nearly 30 people are facing drug and money-laundering charges in connection with distributing meth and heroin from October 2011 until this month. Four names have been blocked out.

Using hidden compartments in cars, law enforcement officials said, the organization moved meth and cocaine to one of the business at 1202 Salina St., which is owned by defendant Jess Trevino. The shipment would then be prepared for transport to distributors in Dallas, Oklahoma City and other cities in other states, authorities said.

This is the second East Austin body shop to be busted this year. Investigators say a major criminal distribution network based out of G.R. Custom Body and Paint at 4826 E. Cesar Chavez St. operated in much the same way.

In that scheme, court records show that owner Hugo Castillo Gaspar, who was arrested, collected cocaine from suppliers in Mexico and the border region and then dispensed the goods to wholesalers in Austin and across the United States. Authorities said they recovered up to $200,000 in cash, $400,000 in other assets, methamphetamine and more than a dozen weapons.

2011-Why La Familia Targets Austin

In unrelated investigation, authorities arrested 14 people who they said were part of another criminal network delivering cocaine and meth to Austin from the Rio Grande Valley. Once in Austin, the drugs would be distributed locally and outside of Texas, police said.

The drugs were coming from Mexico, authorities said, but the group did not have ties to any one Mexican cartel.

Sources: StatesmanKeye, KXAN