CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Thirty-three residents of the Texas Coastal Bend area were arrested this week during a multi-agency operation by federal, state and local law enforcement targeting methamphetamines and illegal firearms.
Two other fugitives, Michael McDaniel, 44, of Three Rivers, Texas, and Luis Vela, 19, of Alice, Texas, remain at large. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of McDaniel or Vela is asked to contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) at 1-866-347-2423.
This operation dubbed “Operation Coastal Bender” was conducted by the following agencies: HSI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Unit; Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS); sheriff’s offices in the Texas counties of Live Oak, San Patricio and Nueces; Jim Wells County Constable’s Office; and Texas police departments in George West, Alice and Beeville.
Each defendant has been charged in a separate and unrelated criminal complaint or indictment. Seventeen of 33 defendants currently in custody, and both of the individuals who remain at-large, are charged with federal firearm and narcotics violations.
Authorities also served three search warrants resulting in the following items being seizure: more than three ounces of methamphetamines, several grams of cocaine, marijuana, Xanax, three firearms, ammunition, and other items related to the sale and distribution of narcotics.
Following this operation, HSI and ATF representatives discussed why it is critical for law enforcement agencies at all levels to work together:
“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) worked side-by-side with HSI, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), as well as state and local police departments to apprehend dozens of violent criminals,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski. “This coordinated effort will make a large impact on violent crime.”
A complete list of all federal defendants is included below. Conviction on the charge of felon in possession of firearms carries up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine. Each federal charge involving a controlled substance carries a minimum penalty of not less than five, but potentially up to life in prison, and fines up to $1 million. Using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime carries an additional five-year term of imprisonment, which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Corpus Christi Division of the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting these respective cases.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.
|Defendant||Age||Texas city of residence||Charge (s)|
|Samuel Pena Jr.||27||Mathis||possession with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine|
|Martin Stewart||44||Mathis||conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine|
|Melanie Sherman||38||Mathis||conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine|
|Guadalupe Acosta||25||Beeville||possession with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine|
|Michael Alegria Jr.||18||Victoria||possession with the intent to distribute 43 grams of methamphetamine|
|Scott McCarty||30||Mathis||conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine|
|Parris Olivarez||28||Mathis||conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine|
|Leeann Thomas Villa||40||Sinton||possession with the intent to distribute more than 5 grams of methamphetamine|
|Michael McDaniel||44||Three Rivers||possession with the intent to distribute more than 5 grams of methamphetamine|
|Matilde Moreno||39||Beeville||possession with the intent to distribute more than 5 grams of methamphetamine|
|Carlos Mata||20||Tuleta||possession with the intent to distribute more than 5 grams of methamphetamine|
|Michelle Estrada||34||Beeville||possession with the intent to distribute more than 5 grams of methamphetamine|
|Luis Vela||19||Alice||felon in possession of a firearm; possession of firearm by a drug addict; possession of a firearm not registered in the nfa|
|Victor Carbajal||28||Three Rivers||felon in possession of a firearm|
|Raymond Lopez||33||Three Rivers||conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine|
|Rene Gutierrez||36||Robstown||possession with the intent to distribute 173.12 grams of heroin|
|John Albert Castillo||51||Corpus Christi||possession with intent to distribute more than 5 grams of methamphetamine|
|Clinton Lien||36||Corpus Christi||possession with the intent to distribute 20 grams of methamphetamine|
|Emilio Acevedo Jr.||34||Alice||possession with the intent to distribute 5 kilograms of cocaine|