Fifteen people were arrested in Burnet County on Wednesday morning, following an investigation of an area drug distribution and trafficking organization lasting more than six months, and involving local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
The investigation began in May of 2013 by the DPS’ Criminal Investigation Division. It culminated in search warrants being issued on two Burnet County properties. The warrants were issued by District Judges Alan Garrett and Dan Mills. In addition to the search warrants, 24 arrest warrants were issued. The searched properties were the homes of Jimmy Don Hardin and Glen Alexander, both of whom were arrested.
Officers seized more than 70 firearms, which included stolen weapons, pistols, assault weapons, semi-automatics, silencers, and more, as well as $10,000 in cash, 8,000 rounds of ammunition, and two ounces of methamphetamine. Floyd Goodwin, DPS CID said that a lot of those weapons were stolen and were potentially bartered to buy drugs. In addition to the guns, officials reported that other items that had been reported stolen were recovered at the two homes.
In a press release held at the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office in Burnet on Wednesday afternoon, agency spokespersons thanked all the agencies who helped bring down the organization.
Major Jose Morales of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigation Division, told reporters that those arrested on December 4 were charged with engaging in criminal activity, a first degree felony, but said that other charges could be added later. He said that there was evidence that the group was storing and distributing methamphetamine from the two residences, and that through the investigation, 70 individuals had been identified as users or distributors in this area.
The groups is believed to have allegedly distributed in Williamson, Burnet, Llano, Travis, Bell, Blanco, Lampasas, and Bastrop counties. Major Morales said that it was estimated that they were distributing between 3-5 pounds of methamphetamine per month, which has a retail value of approximately $200,000.
Burnet County Sheriff WT Smith said that the case began with methamphetamine-related offenses, with the end result being ‘what you see here,’ referring to the display of seized weapons.
Greg Thrash, spokesperson for the DEA, said the organization broken up today was the end group in a much larger organization, beginning with manufacturers and distributors from Mexico. He said that while methamphetamine used to be a domestic product made here, it was now largely produced in Mexico in large quantities and transported here, where groups like this one allegedly distribute the drug.
According to Burnet County Sheriff’s Captain Dwight Hardin, they were not surprised by the number of guns seized, and said that the number of methamphetamine users has increased in the area.
District Attorney Sonny McAfee commended all involved in the case and said that ‘everybody worked together to take this organization off the street. Anytime you have something [this big] taken off the streets, it has a big impact.”
There are still nine suspects at large.
Agencies participating in the operation included the DPS Criminal Investigations Division, the 33rd and 424th District Attorney’s Office, Burnet County Sheriff’s Office, Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office, Llano County Sheriff’s Office, Llano Police Department, Austin Police Department, Cedar Park Police Department, Bertram Police Department, the US Drug Enforcement Agency, Heart of Texas Auto Theft Task Force, and the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.