Drug Distribution Hub - Austin, TX - Recent Big Busts
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin police placed drugs, weapons and cash on display Tuesday morning -- confiscated from three different incidents in March.
The Austin Police Department Organized Crime Division and other APD units talked about large drug seizures, many of which are from Mexico. As a main artery throughout Texas and the United States, Interstate 35 is often used to transport these drugs north.
By October 2011, Texas Department of Public Safety officials said six of the seven Mexican drug cartels had established command and control networks in Texas and have been recruiting high school and even middle school-aged children and students to support their drug, human, currency and weapon smuggling operations on both sides of the Texas/Mexico border.
In one Texas border county, more than 25 juveniles have been arrested for drug trafficking within the past year. In September 2011, two Texas teenagers were lured to Mexico where they were kidnapped, beaten, ransomed and released in a remote area along the Rio Grande River.
DPS in October 2011 apprehended a 12-year-old boy in a border county driving a stolen pickup truck containing more than 800 pounds of marijuana.
“Mexican Cartels have corrupted nearly an entire generation of youth living in northern
Mexico and they seek to corrupt our youth as well to further their smuggling operations” said Steven C. McCraw, DPS director. “The Mexican Cartels value Texas teenagers for their ability to serve as expendable labor in many different roles and they have unlimited resources to recruit our children.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection developed "Operation Detour," an educational campaign warning high school students of the consequences of becoming involved with smuggling.
It's a campaign that looks to help prevent people like "Mark" from joining a cartel.
How a clean-cut kid joined a drug cartel
He's the man who lived in South Austin, part of a middle-class family. He said he was a good student, an athlete and even went to college and waited tables.
But that life just wasn't cutting it, so when he was 22, he started working for one of the largest and most profitable drug cartels in Mexico.
In July 2011, 35 people were arrested in the Austin area in a targeted attack on the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel. Various local and federal agencies raided 11 Austin addresses as part of "Project Delirium," an effort that involved 20 months of a series of investigations nationwide.
Officials seized drugs, weapons and more than $150,000 in cash -- a significant blow to the cartel in the Austin area.
Nationwide, officials seized thousands of pounds of illegal drugs and millions in cash:
$62 million in U.S. currency
approximately 2,773 pounds of methamphetamine
2,722 kilograms of cocaine
1,005 pounds of heroin
14,818 pounds of marijuana
$3.8 million in other assets.
Nationally, more than 70 were arrested up to July 2011, and more than 200 had been arrested since June 1.
Texas Syndicate members nabbed
In February 2011, a drug bust led to more than a dozen prison gang members arrested and pounds upon pounds of drugs off the streets -- thanks to a major operation in Austin and Texas border cities.
Authorities said the Texas Syndicate gang had been transporting a half-ton of marijuana and 10- to 20 pounds of crystal methamphetamine across the border and up Interstate 35 every month -- using Austin as a hub to distribute it.
Safe Street Task Force
On June 3, 2009, the APD Gang Unit seized 22 kilos of cocaine and more than $500,000 -- one of the largest cocaine seizure in the department's history. Some 22 people pleaded guilty to the federal crimes, and it was one of the most successful operations in a nationwide anti-drug operation known as Safe Street Task Force .