International cocaine, cash smuggling ring busted

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by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @KrisB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on February 21, 2013 at 9:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 21 at 11:31 PM

AUSTIN -- An international cocaine and cash smuggling ring has been brought down in Austin.

The DEA, FBI, ATF and Austin police are just some of the agencies that woke up before dawn Thursday to capture and arrest 19 people involved in the international crime ring.

The arrests Thursday were years in the making. Since January 2009, officers have seized over $1 million in cash and 120 pounds of cocaine directly related to this Austin-based network.

The drugs came from Mexico and were shipped from Austin to several states, including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, Louisiana and North Carolina.

One of the men arrested, Hugo Gaspar, owned G. R. Custom Body Shop and Paint on Cesar Chavez and authorities say the shop served as the main distribution hub.

Authorities had a message for the smugglers as they work to bring down this operation.

"I think the drug trafficking organizations can be fairly sophisticated, and one of the things that they need to know is that we're going to be one step ahead of them using all the resources at our disposal to track and them and bring them to justice," said U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman.

Of the 19 people arrested, 15 were Mexican nationals and KVUE News was told that they were here in the country illegally. They each face between ten years to life in prison.

A DEA agents say this investigation uncovered one of the most significant drug organizations in the Austin area.
 

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