Federal And State Authorities Make Arrests In El Paso Crack Cocaine Distribution Investigation
EL PASO, Texas - Federal and state authorities have arrested seven individuals, all of whom are believed to be associated with the Folk Nation gang operating in El Paso, charged in connection with a crack cocaine distribution conspiracy announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent In Charge Joseph A. Arabit, United States Attorney Robert Pitman, El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen and El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza.
Those arrested yesterday and charged federally include: Terry (aka “G”), age 44; Lachundria (aka “Lala”), age 22; Terry Devorn (aka “P”), age 30; Ricardo (aka “Lucio”), age 46; Dominic Martin, age 36; Bryant Berryman, age 27; and, Juan Escalera, age 33. Authorities arrested four additional individuals yesterday based on state charges.
Golden, Aguirre, Pearson and Lucio were charged in a federal grand jury indictment, returned on November 13, 2013, and unsealed today, with one count of conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute. According to the indictment, Golden, Aguirre, Pearson and Lucio conspired with each other between October 2013 and September 2013, to possess with intent to distribute more than 28 grams of crack cocaine.
Martin, owner of the In The Cutt Barbershop and Salon in El Paso, and Berryman and Escalera are charged in separate criminal complaints filed yesterday. Martin and Berryman are charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute; Escalera, with re-entry after deportation. According to one criminal complaint, Martin himself, and also through an associate, sold a total of approximately 27 grams of crack cocaine to individuals acting in an undercover capacity earlier this year. Berryman is alleged to have been in possession of cocaine following a traffic stop on October 2, 2013. Escalera is alleged to have illegally reentered the United States after being formally deported on January 9, 2007.
“This investigation, which was conducted jointly between DEA, the El Paso Police Department and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, targeted a gang-affiliated drug trafficking network responsible for the distribution of crack and powder cocaine in the El Paso area. The arrests of gang members and their associates further our efforts to stem the local drug trade and prevent gang-related violence and other crime,” stated DEA Assistant Special Agent In Charge Steve Whipple, El Paso Division. “DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to work together to pursue those who threaten the safety of the communities in which we work and live,” he added.
All of the defendants who face federal charges remain in custody at this time. Upon conviction, each indicted defendant faces between five and 40 years in federal prison; Martin and Berryman each face up to 20 years in federal prison; and, Escalera faces up to two years in federal prison.
These charges resulted from a DEA El Paso Division Strike Force II investigation. The Strike Force is made up of investigators from the DEA, Homeland Security (HSI), U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Marshals Service, El Paso Police Department and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Child Protective Services assisted in making the arrests.
In addition to yesterday’s enforcement operation, over the past year, 47 arrests have been made due to a combination of countless hours of intelligence research and surveillance throughout the El Paso, Texas area under the Stonegarden Grant. These arrests involved the sale of cocaine, crack, heroin, MDMA, methamphetamine, marijuana, and pharmaceutical drugs. The Stonegarden Grant Overtime Initiative allowed the police department to join with law enforcement agencies such as DEA, HSI, FBI, USMS, EPCSO and US Border Patrol to dedicate continuous manpower that focused on dismantling El Paso trans-national gangs. These arrests dealt a serious blow to El Paso gang hierarchy and demonstrated how important the Stonegarden grant has been to the El Paso Police Department.
According to Lt. Tyler Grossman of the El Paso Police Department, “Forty-seven confirmed gang members have been arrested over the past year, utilizing 4,000 man hours, which was made possible through the Stonegarden Grant. The Stonegarden Grant calls for cooperation of agencies to fight border violence and these arrests are proof of the successful partnership demonstrated by EPPD, DEA, FBI, US Marshals, Border Patrol and others.”
In addition to the arrests, this operation has resulted in the seizure of 190 grams of crack cocaine, 30 grams of cocaine, two firearms and more than $24,000 in U.S. currency.
An indictment, or a criminal complaint, is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt.
The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.