Twenty-four indicted for meth trafficking in the Eastern District of Texas

Michael Broughton of Port Arthur and Gerardo Chavez of Nederland

U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced April 2 the indictment of 24 individuals who operated a major drug distribution ring and were responsible for trafficking methamphetamine to customers across the United States, including in the Eastern District of Texas. 

Over the span of the conspiracy, this drug trafficking ring is alleged to have obtained over 150 kilograms of methamphetamine from numerous Mexican sources of supply for redistribution in Houston, Port Arthur, Texas, Southwest Louisiana, and other areas of the United States.  During the investigation, officers recovered numerous stolen automobiles and other valuable property, which investigators allege was acquired by members of the drug trafficking ring in exchange for methamphetamine.

On March 5, a federal grand jury returned a four-count sealed indictment charging 24 individuals with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and using facilities of interstate commerce to facilitate the interstate distribution of illegal narcotics.  On March 31, state and federal investigators began executing arrest warrants and at this time have successfully apprehended 21 defendants including:

1.            John Nealy Holt, 44, Houston, Texas

2.            Leslie Dianne Baron, 32, Houston, Texas

3.            Christopher Dean Inman, 41, Houston, Texas

4.            Eric Lazaro Castaneda, 38, Houston, Texas

5.            Carlos Eduvijis Rosales, 38, Houston, Texas

6.            Travis Alejandro Lyon, 34, Houston, Texas

7.            Gilbert Gomez, 37, Baytown, Texas

8.            Joshua Lee Lanman, 38, Jersey Village, Texas

9.            Albert Cardenas, Jr., 23, Houston, Texas

10.            Burton Paul Dupuy, 44, Shreveport, Louisiana

11.            Amado Tobar, 44, Dallas, Texas

12.            Joseph Louis Henning, 58, Houston, Texas

13.            Luis Fernando Garcia, 23, Port Arthur, Texas

14.            Gerardo Chavez, 38, Nederland, Texas

15.            Michael Broughton, 39, Port Arthur, Texas

16.            Shawn Key, 37, New Caney, Texas

17.            Taber Price, 39, Humble, Texas

18.            Britanny Danielle Beckham, 31, Hearne, Texas

19.            Ricardo Cortes Lozano, 44, Baytown, Texas

20.            Pablo Hernandez, 39, Houston, Texas

21.            Thurman Clevenger, 51, Houston, Texas

The identities of the remaining at-large defendants shall remain under seal until they are apprehended by authorities.

Suspects Garcia, Chavez and Broughton all call Jefferson County home, and Broughton has a prior conviction for possession of a controlled substance, a state jail felony, stemming from a January 2013 arrest in Port Arthur.

Count One of the March 2015 indictment alleges that from 2011 to March 2015, John Nealy Holt, Leslie Dianne Baron, Christopher Dean Inman, Eric Lazaro Castaneda, Carlos Eduvijis Rosales, Travis Alejandro Lyon, Gilbert Gomez, Joshua Lee Lanman, Albert Cardenas, Jr., Amado Tobar, Joseph Louis Henning, Luis Fernando Garcia, Gerardo Chavez, Michael Broughton, Shawn Dewayne Key, Taber Shawn Price, Britanny Danielle Beckham, Ricardo Cortes Lozano, Pablo Hernandez, and Thurman Lee Clevenger, all conspired to distribute methamphetamine in the Eastern District of Texas and elsewhere. 

Counts Two and Three allege that on Sep. 10, 2014, John Nealy Holt, Leslie Dianne Baron, and Joshua Lee Lanman possessed numerous firearms during and in furtherance of the methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy. 

Count Four alleges that on Aug. 21, 2014, John Nealy Holt and Burton Paul Dupuy used the mail and other facilities of interstate commerce to facilitate the distribution of methamphetamine.

The defendants all face a maximum sentence ranging from 20 years to life in federal prison if convicted of the methamphetamine conspiracy charge.

This case is the result of an extensive two and a half year joint investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.  During the course of this operation, agents have successfully arrested over 38 individuals and have seized multi-kilogram quantities of methamphetamine, kilogram quantities of drug laced hallucinogen “gummy” candies, 22 firearms, over 400 lbs. of ammunition, and recovered 17 stolen automobiles, 5 stolen motorcycles, 2 stolen trailers, and hundreds of antiques.

This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Beaumont Resident Office, the Port Arthur Police Department, and the Houston Police Department, with assistance from the Fort Worth, Texas and Shreveport, Louisiana DEA Resident Offices, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Marshals Service, Texas Department of Public Safety, the Harris, Montgomery, Waller, and Jefferson County (Texas) Sheriff’s Offices, Montgomery County Pct. 4 and Pct. 1 Constable’s Office, and the police departments of Baytown, Humble, Oak Ridge North, Port Neches, and Groves, Texas.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Baylor Wortham.

A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.