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HSI-led drug trafficking investigation nets 11 arrests, gun and drug seizures

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Eleven individuals appeared in court Wednesday for their roles in a drug trafficking operation that stretched from Texas to Florida, after an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The defendants allegedly moved thousands of pounds of marijuana from McAllen, Texas, to drug stash houses north of Panama City in Washington County, and from those stash houses to areas near Jacksonville, Fla., and Orlando, Fla. They include: Rufus Daniel "R.D." Curington, Jr., 70, Charles A. Armstrong, 56, and Joseph Kevin Jeter, 43, all of Vernon, Fla.; James Hardesty Moore, 71, of Panama City; Jaime Rodriguez, 41, of Orlando; Daniel Nunez, 35, John Paul Walker, 44, Alberto Gomez, 25, Jorge Martinez, 34, Jesus Antonio Gonzalez, 46, and Alejandro Maya, 30, all of McAllen.

The affidavit alleges that on Feb. 5 the organization sent a tractor-trailer to Vernon to offload marijuana for Curington and Armstrong and to collect more than $400,000 in drug proceeds from prior sales. The affidavit further alleges that Jeter permitted the marijuana to be offloaded from the tractor-trailer on his property in exchange for $10,000 to $20,000.

On Feb. 6, law enforcement executed search warrants on Jeter's property, as well as at the residences of Curington, Armstrong and Moore. On Jeter's property, law enforcement found the tractor-trailer and more than 2,700 pounds of marijuana, which had been offloaded into a shed. Law enforcement seized numerous firearms and more than $156,000 in cash at Curington's residence. They seized 22 firearms and more than $431,000 at Armstrong's residence and eight firearms and more than $28,000 at Moore's residence.

Court documents allege that the drug organization used tractor-trailers to regularly send loads of marijuana, weighing thousands of pounds, from McAllen to Vernon, where marijuana was offloaded at drug stash houses controlled by Curington and Jeter. According to the affidavit, once the marijuana was offloaded, Curington took hundreds of pounds of marijuana, which he and Armstrong distributed in the Panama City area to Moore and others. The affidavit further alleges that the remainder of the marijuana was sent to central Florida for further distribution. Moreover, the affidavit alleges that money from the sale of marijuana in northern and central Florida was taken by members of the organization to the Vernon stash houses, where it was collected and transported to the organization in McAllen.

Curington, Armstrong, Jeter and Moore were charged by criminal complaint in the Northern District of Florida with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana. Rodriguez faces drug charges in the Middle District of Florida. Nunez, Walker, Gomez, Martinez, Gonzalez and Maya face drug charges in the Southern District of Texas.

HSI led this investigation with assistance from the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the Washington County Sheriff's Office; the Bay County Sheriff's Office; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and local law enforcement agencies in the Orlando and McAllen areas.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty in a court of law.