When federal prosecutors last year shut down the Dallas cell of a violent new Mexican drug cartel, experts predicted the lull would be temporary. It didn't take long.
On Wednesday, federal authorities announced charges against eight members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel in a large methamphetamine trafficking plot allegedly operating in the Dallas and DeSoto areas.
The seven men and one woman are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. They remain in federal custody, said the U.S. attorney's office in Dallas.
Those charged include:
Marco Antonio Gonzalez, 31
Ricardo Mendez-Negrete, a.k.a. "Jose Negrete," 42
Jose Trinidad Medina Tapia, a.k.a. "Alex Aviles," 31
Miguel Carrillo-Ayala, a.k.a. "Tomas Rodriguez," 38
Alma Zoraida Borrayo-Villasenor, 32
Javier Guizar-Hernandez, a.k.a. "Jorge Hernandez," 28
Hector Garcia-Gomez, 36
Ivan Gonzalez, 22
The defendants are members or associates of the cartel, the U.S. attorney's office said. Their attorneys could not be reached for comment.
Authorities said Borrayo-Villasenor, Carrillo-Ayala, Tapia and Guizar-Hernandez are Mexican citizens who were in the U.S. without authorization when the crimes were committed.
The defendants are accused of selling thousands of kilograms of methamphetamine from August 2016 through Aug. 31, 2017. They used homes in Dallas and DeSoto neighborhoods as meth laboratories, according to the indictment.
The defendants also stored large amounts of drugs at an auto business, and they bought vehicles from the lot with drug money in an attempt to hide the source, the indictment said. Federal agents on Aug. 31 seized about 750 kilograms of methamphetamine valued at about $6 million. They also seized about 2 kilograms of cocaine and 6 kilograms of heroin during searches, authorities said."Drug trafficking networks like this one are responsible for fueling North Texas' largest drug threats, including methamphetamine and heroin," said U.S. Attorney John Parker. "Working with our local and federal law enforcement partners to dismantle them and bring them to justice, as we did here, is a top priority for this office."
The Jalisco cartel split from the powerful Sinaloa cartel in 2010. Since then, the group has engaged in mass executions of rival cartel members and assaults on Mexican police and military. In April 2015, members ambushed state police officers headed to the city of Guadalajara, killing 15 of them.
The cartel sells methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine throughout the U.S., according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Experts call it the fastest-growing drug cartel in Mexico. It is based in the western state of Jalisco but has extended operations up to the Texas border.
A former Grand Prairie real estate agent who smuggled drugs for the organization helped federal prosecutors break up a previously Dallas-based operation. In that case, more than a dozen cartel operatives were convicted in federal court in Dallas of drug crimes, including the real estate agent, Nicolas Salinas.
Salinas, a U.S. citizen, was a real estate agent in Texas for more than a decade. He helped cartel members buy houses to stash drugs, court records show. He is serving a sentence of nearly six years in prison.