AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation took part in the arrests of 18 people on federal drug trafficking charges in South Austin, Tuesday morning. Multiple law enforcement agencies were seen at two houses — located on Emerald Forest Drive and Mojave Drive — both south of West Stassney Lane.
Neighbors in the area were surprised to hear the FBI before 5 a.m. Tuesday.
“I was shocked I didn’t know what to think what’s going on. I looked through the window and I went to my bedroom window and I saw people everywhere,” Maria Ruiz said.
“I saw armored vehicles, armored van, full combat boots, looked like a war zone in Afghanistan or Iraq,” another neighbor, Greg said.
The following 20 individuals were arrested, including one man from Buda, on federal drug trafficking charges, according to U.S. Attorney Richard Durbin, Jr. and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs:
Harold Lee Urias III, 38
Nancy Urias-Jaimes, 32
Anthony Acosta, 41
Aaron Anderson, 41
Joe Beltran, 40
Edward Cortinas, 58
Alfred Escobar, 44
Virgil Fernandez, Jr., 57
Alfredo Garza, 32
John Carl Garza, 50
Jose Ortiz II, 28
Angelo Perez, 37
Phillip Anthony Rivera, 41
Seaton Scott Salazar, 39
Mark Selvera, 45
Paul Villanueva, 49
Julianne Maynard, 30
Wayne Limon, 44, of Buda
Also arrested were Jesus Gonzalez, 24, of Katy and Luis Miguez Villanueva, 22, of Houston.
A federal grand jury has indicted 19 with one count of conspiracy to possess with the intention of distributing cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. The suspects allegedly distributed multiple kilograms of narcotics since May 2014, bringing them from the Texas/Mexico border.
Court documents show people allegedly involved in the drug ring conspiracy would use coded language over the phone and use cell phones that could be easily thrown away or put under different names and addresses.
Investigators say the group was selling at least 5 kilograms or more of drugs or mixes of drugs containing cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetarnine.
Court documents show the FBI has proof of conversations relating to drug trafficking as early as 2014.
If convicted, those charged face between 10 years and life in federal prison. In addition to Tuesday’s arrests, authorities have seized more than four kilos of cocaine, marijuana and meth, as well as nine firearms, two vehicles and around $50,000 in U.S. currency.
The two-year-old investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force with DPS, Austin Police Department, Texas Department of Criminal Justice Office of the Inspector General, the Travis County Sheriff’s Office and Round Rock police.