Officers arrest 17 suspects here illegally in drug investigation

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Federal officials arrested 20 people this past week who are suspected of being involved in a drug distribution ring operating in North Texas and other areas of the United States.

Officials were still looking for four suspects in the case. Seventeen of the 20 who have been arrested are believed to be in the United States illegally, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

During the arrest operation Thursday, officers and agents seized approximately 26 kilograms of methamphetamine, 3 kilograms of heroin, 4 kilograms of cocaine, 22 handguns, three rifles, one silencer, 22 vehicles, one non-operational methamphetamine laboratory, and approximately $300,000.

One of those arrested, Martin Santana, 34, was referred to as one of the cell-heads of the organization, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday. Santana was responsible for distributing multi-kilogram amounts of methamphetamine and cocaine in Dallas, Fort Worth and other areas in the United States, the complaint said.

Another man who was arrested, Armando Martinez-Martinez, 26, collected drug money, delivered drugs and managed Santana’s stash houses. Another man who was arrested, Erick Arellano, 23, who is also known as “Gordo” or “Gorras,” was identified as Santana’s cocaine source, the complaint said.

Two other suspects who were arrested, Rufino Santamaria-Varona, 23, and Noe Lopez-Martinez, 22, were identified as drug couriers who delivered cocaine and collected drug money for Arellano, the complaint stated.

A wire tap for Santana’s phone was issued on June 30, according to the complaint. During an intercepted phone call, Santana ordered Martinez-Martinez to pay for drugs and request another “hand” or 5 kilograms of cocaine for sale, the complaint said.

While searching a residence in the 13000 block of Flagstone Lane in Dallas, agents found several wrappers coated with cocaine residue, a digital scale coated with cocaine residue, packaging materials and a money counter, the complaint stated.

Lopez-Martinez and Martinez-Martinez were arrested. Santamaria-Varona was arrested after agents found a Taurus 9 mm pistol and a box of ammunition under his bed at the Flagstone residence, the complaint said. An undetermined amount of cash was also seized from the Flagstone residence as well as drug ledgers, the complaint said.

According to the release, the others who were arrested as of Friday include: Juliana Millan, aka “Julie,” “Julie Lopez,” 33; Horacio Romero Alpizar, aka “Old Man,” 57; Joel Sanchez Bravo, aka “Um9449,” 42; Marko Cardenas, aka “Um3821,” 29; Rigoberto Flores-Gomez, aka “Zapatito,” 33; Francisco Garcia, aka “Cacheton,” 49; Claudia Garcia-Camacho, 22; Juan Manuel Iturve, 36; Mayra Lira, 27; Brandon Lutrick, 41; Gabriela Morales, 30; Gerardo Ortiz, 27; Jose Guadalupe Valentin, aka “Chemo,” “Um6475,” 38; Ricardo Valle, aka “Um 6025,” 33; and Franuel Teran-Rojo, 21.