16 arrested in Central Texas after 2 federal drug investigations

State and federal authorities arrested 16 people Thursday in Central Texas as a result of two investigations of narcotics trafficking in McLennan and Bell counties. (File photo)
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(KWTX) State and federal authorities arrested 16 people Thursday in Central Texas as a result of two investigations of narcotics trafficking in McLennan and Bell counties, U.S. Attorney John F. Bash announced.

Three others indicted as a result of the investigations were already in custody.

The first investigation involving Waco and Lacy Lakeview police, McLennan County deputies, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the FBI and the DEA, led to seven arrests based on five federal indictments that were unsealed Thursday in Waco.

During the investigation, authorities seized about two kilograms of methamphetamine, four kilograms of cocaine, about $50,000 in cash, four firearms including a Mini Draco AK47 assault style pistol, several pounds of marijuana and several hundred THC vaping pens.

On Thursday they also seized seven firearms including two AR-15s, on of which was fitted with night vision equipment, one AK-47 pistol, one AK-47 rifle, and about $3,600 in cash.

Xavier Angelo Hernandez (aka "X"), 23, of Waco; Julio Cesar Cruz, 26, of Waco; Martin Zuniga, Jr., 19, of Waco; Gaspar Sardaneta Martinez (aka "Garza"), 28, of Waco; Carline Stone Bolding, 49, of Elm Mott, Cheryl Ann Flanagan (aka "Cheryl Guajardo "), 40, of Waco; and Sabrina Maria Sardaneta, 28, of Robinson, are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute at least 500 grams of methamphetamine in the Waco area since September 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Steven Matthew Ochoa, 29, of Waco, who was also named in the indictments, was already in custody after his arrest in August during which four kilograms of cocaine and about $16,000 in cash was recovered.

Christopher Mikel Clark (aka "Little Chris"), 20, of Waco, was indicted on one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

In June authorities executed a search warrant at his residence and recovered marijuana and a Mini Draco AK-47 assault style pistol.

Joseph Ryan Edwards, 26, of Waco, was also indicted on one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

After a traffic stop in June, authorities searched his vehicle and found a .380 caliber pistol, 41 THC oil pens, and about $2,900.00 in cash.

Amor Esperanza Zuniga (aka "Stony Zuniga"), 19, of Waco, who was already in custody, was indicted on one count of possession with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of methamphetamine and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

The indictment also charges Zuniga and Heraclio Santos Carreon, 41, of Waco, with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Carreon also was already in custody.

On July 21 authorities searched their vehicle and discovered approximately 100 grams of methamphetamine and an RG 14, .22 caliber revolver.

A second investigation involving the DPS, FBI, DEA and Homeland Security Investigations resulted in a single indictment unsealed Thursday in Waco that led to the arrests of German Zarzoza Moreno, 33, of Temple; Raul Montes, 47, of Galena Park; Jaime Estrada, Jr., 20, of Temple; Jesus Alberto Garcia Zuniga, 25, of Temple; Erik Enrique Hernandez, 32, of Temple; Luis Carlos Jimenez, Jr., 26, of Temple; Ezequiel Orozco, 29, of Temple

Moreno, Montes and Estrada were indicted on one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine and one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.

Zuniga and Hernandez were indicted only on the cocaine conspiracy count.

Jimenez and Orozco were indicted only on the methamphetamine conspiracy count.

The indictment alleges that under the direction of Moreno and Montes, the defendants distributed cocaine and methamphetamine in the Temple area since May 2018.

A search and arrest operation Thursday in the Temple and Houston areas led to the seizure of about 2,850 grams of cocaine, 8.4 grams of ecstasy, and 31.9 grams of marijuana as well as a .45 caliber Smith and Wesson pistol, a false battery compartment, a kilogram press, and several other items indicative of distribution and transportation of cocaine and methamphetamine.

It was not immediately clear whether a warrant service Thursday morning in West that led to a short standoff and lockdowns at two nearby schools was related to the investigations.