By CHRISTIN COYNE
Thirty-two people have been charged as a result of a Drug Enforcement Administration-led investigation into methamphetamine trafficking in Stephenville and surrounding counties, including Parker County.
The drug-trafficking organization was responsible for distributing hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine in Parker County and several other surrounding rural counties, according to a federal court complaint, which was unsealed Friday, and charges 32 defendants with conspiracy to possess a controlled substance.
Twenty of those charged were arrested Thursday, while another 11 are in custody on unrelated state charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. One person has not been arrested.
The DEA and the Stephenville Police Department began investigating the organization in December, identifying more than 100 people distributing for or obtaining methamphetamine from the group, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Law enforcement believes the suspects are responsible for distributing hundred of pounds of methamphetamine in Erath, Parker, Palo Pinto, Comanche, Eastland, Stephens, Hood, Hamilton, Somerville and Taylor counties.
One of the groups supplying methamphetamine to the Stephenville organization was based in Azle, along with other groups located other northern and major Texas cities, according to the complaint.
At least two drug seizures involved in the investigation reportedly occurred in the Parker County area.
In April and August, investigators seized a total of approximately 6 ounces of methamphetamine and $8,000 from a cooperating defendant in Weatherford and Fort Worth, according to the complaint unsealed Friday.
Information obtained during the investigation also led to the seizure of 6 ounces of methamphetamine and arrest of another cooperating defendant in Cresson sometime after May, the DEA stated.
“These arrests illustrate the success of our District’s federal, state and local law enforcement partners’ collaboration in taking down these drug trafficking organizations — whether they operate in large communities, or in several rural counties as this one allegedly did,” U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Sarah R. Saldaña said. “I commend the dedicated efforts of the DEA and the Stephenville Police Department, who led this OCDETF (Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force) investigation, along with the Erath, Parker, Palo Pinto and Stephens County Sheriff’s Offices, the Erath County District Attorney’s Office, the Fort Worth and Weatherford Police Departments, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Texas Department of Public Safety.”
“Drug trafficking organizations are determined to spread their poison in an attempt to make a profit on the backs of addiction,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Daniel R. Salter said. “Today, the DEA and our state and local partners have made a significant impact on these organizations operating in our rural counties.
“I am grateful for the efforts of our special agents, prosecutors, and law enforcement partners in dismantling this organization. Our law enforcement community is strong and together we are committed to ensuring that our communities are safe and drug free.”