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24 charged in Austin, San Antonio in federal Project Python drug cartel bust

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — More than 20 people have been charged by federal grand juries in San Antonio and Austin for their roles in narcotics trafficking schemes with ties to the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG).

The arrests came from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Project Python.  That investigation led to law enforcement seizing 33 grams of methamphetamine, 1 kilogram of heroin, 250 grams of cocaine and $13,000 in assets.

Federal prosecutors say a grand jury in Austin charged 18 people with conspiring to distribute cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and other narcotics in the Austin area since April 2017.

The people charged were identified as:

Maria Benitez-Ugarte (29) of Dale, TX; Rogelio Arias-Cruz (36) of Dale, TX; Linde DiGregorio (47) of Marble Falls, TX; Amanda Sales (34) of Manor, TX; Vicente Rodriguez (35) of Austin; Jordan Salas (27) of Houston; Perla Cruz (28) of Austin; Blanca Ruiz-Garcia (42) of Kyle, TX; Shadrick Croxton (38) of Marble Falls, TX; Brandon Grigsby (24) of Lago Vista, TX; Antoinne Banks (43) of Austin; Matt Kite of Humble, TX; David Steinbach (35) of San Angelo, TX; Charlie Jones (25) of Austin; Cory Patton (27) of Austin; Guillermo Alvarez-Ramirez (35) of Austin; Ricardo Hernandez (30) of Austin; and, Aaron Chavez (31) of Austin.

A grand jury in San Antonio charged six people on the same charges, accused of committing these drug crimes in and around San Antonio since March 2019.

These defendants were identified as: Johnathan Andrew Chapa (33); Roger Diaz (34); John David Medrano (24); Julian Jimmy Gonzalez (34); Deandra Lee Garcia (30); and Ashley Lorraine Ruiz (26), all from the San Antonio area.

“The arrests made in Austin and San Antonio were part of a coordinated nationwide enforcement operation undertaken by the Department of Justice and DEA targeting elements of the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) in the United States. The CJNG is a violent drug trafficking organization responsible for the importation of ton quantities of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine across the United States,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Steven S. Whipple.

Each defendant faces punishment of either five to 40 years, or 10 years to life, in federal prison if convicted.


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