United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas

04/01/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/01/2024 13:17

41 charged in massive poly-drug indictment linked to cartel

Press Release

41 charged in massive poly-drug indictment linked to cartel

Monday, April 1, 2024
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
Warrants remain outstanding for leader and 15 other fugitives

GALVESTON, Texas - A total of 23 people were taken into custody following the return of a 50-count indictment alleging cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and meth trafficking and related crimes in the Houston and Galveston areas, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

The indictment alleges they all operated under the overall control of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

From Dec. 28, 2018, to April 22, 2020, the conspirators allegedly operated in and out of the Southern District of Texas (SDTX) and distributed drugs smuggled into the United States from Mexico.

The leader of one of these groups - Roque Zamudio-Mendoza, 52, Mexico, was the main source of drugs smuggled into the United States, according to the charges. Other co-conspirators allegedly distributed the narcotics in the Houston and Galveston areas to other locations throughout the United States, including New Orleans, Louisiana; Pensacola, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; and Chicago, Illinois.

During the law enforcement operation that spanned multiple jurisdictions to include the Houston, Arlington, Corpus Christi, Brownsville and McAllen areas in Texas as well as Louisiana, Colorado, Washington and California, authorities arrested a total of 20 people. They join three individuals who were previously in custody. Two are now deceased. Zamudio-Mendoza, who is believed to be in Mexico, and 15 others are still at large and warrants remain outstanding for their arrests.

Some have already made their appearances in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Edison. Others are set for April 2 at 10 a.m. in Galveston or in Houston April 3 at either 11 a.m. or 2 p.m.

The indictment, returned Dec. 14, 2023, also seeks forfeiture of any illegal proceeds of the alleged crimes, estimated at $10 million. To date, records indicate authorities have seized approximately 550 kilograms of meth, 249 kilograms of cocaine, 34 kilograms of heroin, five kilograms of pentobarbital and 22,600 fentanyl-laced pills. As part of the arrests, they also allegedly found nine firearms and several luxury Rolex watches and large amounts of U.S. currency to include $190,000 seized during a traffic stop in Porter.

All are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and meth and face up to life in prison. Each is also charged in varying counts to include conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, laundering of monetary instruments, possession with intent to distribute meth, heroin, fentanyl and/or cocaine.

The arrests are the culmination of a 63-month Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces investigation (OCDETF) dubbed Operation Rainmaker that began in 2019.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Marshals Service conducted the OCDETF investigation along with Houston Police Department, Galveston Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice's OCDETF webpage.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth Cusick and Rick Hanes are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Updated April 1, 2024
Drug Trafficking