17 sentenced in Central Texas drug ring with ties to North Carolina

(Photo: Steve Buissinne/file)
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Prosecutors say 17 people have been sentenced for their convictions in a Central Texas cocaine and methamphetamine ring with ties to North Carolina.

A federal judge in Austin on Tuesday ordered sentences ranging from nearly 22 years in prison to probation or time served for the ring operating since 2016 in the Taylor area.

The investigation so far has led to the seizure of $161,020 in cash, 6 kilograms of cocaine, 2 ounces of crack cocaine, 42 pounds of marijuana and three firearms.

Records show 20 people were indicted in November 2017 and arrested the following month on trafficking-related conspiracy charges.

They're from Laredo, Round Rock, Taylor, Pflugerville, Temple and Austin, plus Sanford, Broadway and Cameron, North Carolina.

Members of the ring, which also dealt in pharmaceutical narcotics, transported drugs from Laredo to Central Texas, then to North Carolina and other U.S. points.

Prosecutors say 20 people have been convicted, along with seizure of cash, drugs and guns.

“According to court records, from July 2016 to October 2017, members of this organization were responsible for the distribution of large amounts of cocaine, methamphetamine and diverted pharmaceutical narcotics,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

“The narcotics would be transported from Laredo to Central Texas and ultimately to areas across the U.S., including North Carolina, for further distribution. Defendants would also collect, transport and launder cash proceeds derived from the sale of narcotics.”

Defendants and sentences
•Horace Lee Caruther, age 43 of Round Rock, TX, to 210 months in federal prison;
•William Collins (aka "Bugs"), age 62 of Taylor, TX, to 87 months in federal prison;
•Trevor Deshaun Hunt, age 26 of Taylor, to 57 months in federal prison;
•Gregory Bean, Jr., age 45 of Pflugerville, TX, to 15 months in federal prison;
•Robert Carl White, age 39 of Temple, TX, to 77 months in federal prison;
•Angel Amado Rodriguez, age 24 of Austin, to 188 months in federal prison;
•Kenneth Xavier Garza, age 23 of Austin, to 60 months in federal prison;
•Esmerelda Rodriguez, age 23 of Austin, to three years’ probation;
•Salomon Orozco-Benitez (aka "Viejito"), age 34 of Austin, to 168 months in federal prison;
•Elias Montiel, age 27 of Sanford, NC, to 46 months in federal prison;
•Federico Alvarez-Mendoza, age 37 of Cameron, NC, to 30 months in federal prison;
•David Ibarra, age 26 of Broadway, NC, to 30 months in federal prison;
•Miguel Benitez-Benitez (aka "Daniel Sanchez Benitez"), age 39 of Pflugerville, to 262 months in federal prison;
•Sandra Parra-Velez (aka "La Coyota"), age 34 of Austin, to 70 months in federal prison;
•Jose Parra-Martinez (aka "Vitaminas"), age 36 of Austin, to 60 months in federal prison;
•Maria Loreto Bustamonte, age 53 of Laredo, TX, to time served (approx. 14 months incarceration); and,
•Ana Patricia Gonzalez, age 48 of Laredo, to three years’ probation.