21 arrested, accused of trafficking meth in Texas

Crime & Public Safety

File image of rocks of crystal meth (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than 20 people from in and around Austin were arrested Thursday on federal drug trafficking charges, according to the Department of Justice.

The charges, which include conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, where handed down in two separate federal grand jury indictments, the DOJ said. Fourteen others connected to the drug crimes were already in custody prior to yesterday’s arrests.

Indictment #1

Before the arrests, authorities seized 65 kilograms of meth and more than $49,000 in other assets in connection with the drug trafficking ring, the DOJ said. On Thursday, authorities also seized around seven kilograms of meth, one kilogram of cocaine, a dozen firearms and $20,000.

Those listed below are charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute kilogram quantities of methamphetamine in Texas from August 2019 to March 2021.

Arrested

  • Karl Beck, age 42 of Austin – also charged with one count of money laundering
  • Victor Penaloza-Calderon (aka Alberto Espino-Bustos), a 36-year-old Mexican National residing in Houston – also charged with one count of money laundering
  • Craig Neely, age 45 of Austin – also charged with one count of money laundering
  • Michael Peterson, age 38 of Killeen
  • Elias Loza Jr, age 43 of Austin
  • Reginald Thomas, age 51 of Kyle
  • Amy Rogers, age 39 of Austin
  • Victoria Manning, age 33 of Austin
  • Laurel Yurchick, age 46 of Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Joshua Bailey, age 43 of Austin
  • Leonard Cantrell, age 34 of Elgin
  • Daylin Lopez-Iglesias, age 31 of Pasadena
  • Hallie Shaw, age 36 of Austin
  • Rita Islas, a 39-year-old Mexican National residing in Nacogdoches – also charged with one count of money laundering
  • Madison Mitchell, age 19 of Austin – also charged with one count of money laundering

Already in custody

  • Hilda Gutierrez-Benitez, 37, of Austin
  • Bobby Hale, 34, of Giddings — also charged with one count of money laundering
  • Stephanie Shires, 44, of Georgetown
  • Stephen Penberg, 37, of Austin
  • Clinton Johnson, 37, of Austin
  • Shawn Malmquist, 30, of Cedar Park
  • Cody Richards, 30, of Liberty Hill
  • Anthony Lones II, 36, of Cedar Park
  • Richard Zamora, 44, of Austin — also charged with one count of money laundering
  • Adrianne Spence, 35, of Austin
  • Joshua Cherry, 29, of Austin
  • Jeffrey Sparks, 38, of Manor

At least seven of those charged face between 10 years to life in prison if convicted on the drug charge, based on how much meth was involved. The rest face between five to 40 years in prison upon conviction, according to the DOJ.

Those who were also charged with money laundering also face up to 20 years in prison upon conviction of that charge.

Indictment #2

Those listed below are charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute kilogram quantities of methamphetamine in Texas.

Before the arrests, authorities seized 18 kilograms of meth and 27 firearms, the DOJ said.

Arrested

  • Monty Lane Riggs, 66, of San Saba
  • Suni Wynn Rogers, 39, of Richland Springs
  • Joseph Martinez Mafnas, 28, of Florence
  • Shawnwilliam Songao Santos, 48, of Florence
  • Marylee Manfas Santos, 48, of Florence
  • Vincent Lee Presto, 48, of Harker Heights

Already in custody

  • Dude Edward Beabout, 63, of Kempner
  • Ashley Jo Wiggins, 33, of Killeen

All defendants face between 10 years and life in prison if conviction.

“These arrests conclude a comprehensive investigation by the DEA and our partners into the criminal activities of a dangerous poly drug trafficking organization,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Comeaux. “With these arrests, key command and control elements of this criminal organization’s leadership have been apprehended and removed from the communities they sought to prey upon.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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