Cartel Crackdown: 23 People Taken Into Custody in TX

Man being arrested | Image by filo/Getty Images

A massive drug trafficking operation spanning Houston and Galveston has been fractured with the arrest of 23 individuals following the unsealing of a 50-count indictment.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Alamdar Hamdani, for the Southern District of Texas, the indictment alleges that the suspects were part of a network under the control of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. The news release noted the trafficking of cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine into the U.S. from Mexico.

Operating from December 28, 2018, to April 22, 2020, the conspirators allegedly distributed these drugs across various states, including New Orleans, Louisiana; Pensacola, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; and Chicago, Illinois, per the release.

Roque Zamudio-Mendoza, 52, of Mexico, identified as the leader of one of the operations, is alleged to be the primary provider of the smuggled drugs. While authorities have arrested 20 individuals in connection to the operation across multiple jurisdictions, joining three others already in custody, the news release notes that 15 suspects remain at large with warrants issued for their arrests.

“The indictment, returned Dec. 14, 2023, also seeks forfeiture of any illegal proceeds of the alleged crimes, estimated at $10 million,” it reads.

Additionally, law enforcement efforts have resulted in the seizure of substantial quantities of illicit substances, including “approximately 550 kilograms of meth, 249 kilograms of cocaine, 34 kilograms of heroin, five kilograms of pentobarbital and 22,600 fentanyl-laced pills.”

During the arrests, authorities allegedly seized nine firearms, luxury Rolex watches, and large amounts of U.S. currency, including $190,000 confiscated during a traffic stop in Porter, Texas.

The suspects face charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and money laundering, with potential sentences of up to life imprisonment. Some suspects have already appeared in federal court, according to ABC 13.

The drug trafficking ring sting marks the culmination of a 63-month investigation named Operation Rainmaker, led by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, aimed at disrupting drug trafficking networks and combating organized crime, per the U.S. Attorney’s Office, reported ABC 13.

According to a 2023 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, during a 12-month period ending April 2023, provisional counts suggest there were 110,199 drug overdose deaths in the U.S., compared to 107,779 during the year ending the same month in 2022.

In a testament to the local impacts of climbing drug use, a January study utilizing data sourced from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that Dallas had the highest rates of both fentanyl-related and drug-related fatalities in traffic incidents among all Texas cities, as reported by The Dallas Express.

Additionally, DX reported that drug offenses in Dallas have increased in 2024 by 4.7% as of March 24, bumping up from 2,343 to 2,454 reported incidents year over year.

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