EL PASO – On Thursday, Sept. 6, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) arrested 18 suspects for allegedly engaging in organized criminal activity and possession of controlled substances by fraud.
"At DPS, teamwork is one of our core values, and the department is grateful for all of our law enforcement partners who participated in this investigation and who work around-the-clock every day to combat crime and protect our communities," said DPS Regional Director Orlando Alanis.
DPS Special Agents conducted an eight-month investigation specifically focused on identifying and targeting criminal organizations and individuals suspected of prescription drug fraud. Individuals suspected of prescription fraud were those profiting or conspiring to profit illegally from prescription drugs, including hydrocodone, suboxone, methadone, tramadol, alprazolam, Tylenol with codeine, lyrica, phentermine and temazepam.
"The diversion and abuse of prescription drugs poses a significant threat to the health and safety of El Pasoans," said Kyle W. Williamson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) El Paso Division. "As we have seen in other parts of the country hit hard by the opioid crisis, abuse of these drugs leads to countless shattered lives and tragically high rates of overdose deaths. For this reason, the DEA and our law enforcement partners in El Paso are committed to working together to investigate prescription fraud and stop those who illegally obtain and divert addictive pharmaceuticals."
DPS Special Agents worked in conjunction with the DEA Tactical Diversion Taskforce, El Paso Sheriff's Office (EPSO), El Paso Police Department (EPPD), West Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) and members of the 34th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
The following individuals were arrested:
- Leticia Cervantes, 60, of El Paso, Texas
- Mauricio Cervantes 43, of El Paso, Texas
- Cynthia Molinar 37, of El Paso, Texas
- Guadalupe Nuno 66, of El Paso, Texas
- Margaret Ziashkau 45, of El Paso, Texas
- Maria Porras 60, El Paso, Texas
- Myrna Dattoli 43, El Paso, Texas
- Diana Gonzalez, 35, El Paso, Texas
- Gracie Castillo 45, of El Paso, Texas
- Nicholas Castillo, 47, of El Paso, Texas
- Rosa Castillo, 76, of El Paso, Texas
- Mario Martinez, 22, of El Paso, Texas
- Maria Garcia 58, of El Paso, Texas
- Guadalupe Zamarripa, 70, of El Paso, Texas
- Debra Drost, 33, of El Paso, Texas
- Luis Iglesias, 49, of El Paso, Texas
- Alfonso Gil III, 38, of El Paso, Texas
- Rogelio Salas, 32, of El Paso, Texas
Four fugitives are still pending arrest.
To report prescription drug fraud, contact DPS at (915) 849-4000 or DEA at (915) 231-4300.
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