41 people charged in massive drug trafficking indictment linked to major cartel

HOUSTON – Several law enforcement leaders gathered Monday afternoon to announce a significant round of arrests involving drug trafficking.


A total of 23 people were taken into custody following the return of a 50-count indictment alleging cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and meth trafficking and related crimes in the Houston and Galveston areas, U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani announced during the news conference Monday.

The indictment alleges they all operated under the overall control of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

From Dec. 28, 2018, to April 22, 2020, the conspirators allegedly operated in and out of the Southern District of Texas (SDTX) and distributed drugs smuggled into the United States from Mexico.

The leader of one of these groups, Roque Zamudio-Mendoza, 52, Mexico, was the main source of drugs smuggled into the United States, according to the charges. Other co-conspirators allegedly distributed the narcotics in the Houston and Galveston areas to other locations throughout the United States, including New Orleans, Louisiana; Pensacola, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; and Chicago, Illinois.

During the law enforcement operation that spanned multiple jurisdictions to include the Houston, Arlington, Corpus Christi, Brownsville and McAllen areas in Texas as well as Louisiana, Colorado, Washington and California, authorities arrested a total of 20 people. They join three individuals who were previously in custody. Two are now deceased.

Zamudio-Mendoza, who is believed to be in Mexico, and 15 others are still at large and warrants remain outstanding for their arrests.

Some have already made their appearances in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Edison. Others are set for April 2 at 10 a.m. in Galveston or in Houston April 3 at either 11 a.m. or 2 p.m.

The indictment, returned Dec. 14, 2023, also seeks forfeiture of any illegal proceeds of the alleged crimes, estimated at $10 million. To date, records indicate authorities have seized approximately 550 kilograms of meth, 249 kilograms of cocaine, 34 kilograms of heroin, five kilograms of pentobarbital and 22,600 fentanyl-laced pills. As part of the arrests, they also allegedly found nine firearms and several luxury Rolex watches and large amounts of U.S. currency to include $190,000 seized during a traffic stop in Porter.

All are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and meth and face up to life in prison. Each is also charged in varying counts to include conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, laundering of monetary instruments, possession with intent to distribute meth, heroin, fentanyl and/or cocaine.

The arrests are the culmination of a 63-month Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces investigation (OCDETF) dubbed Operation Rainmaker that began in 2019.

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