As many as 11 East Texas residents suspected of trafficking more than 50 grams of methamphetamine were arrested early Tuesday and hauled into custody — many still in their pajamas — during an early morning raid by local, state and federal authorities.
Officials from both Cherokee County and Jacksonville participated in the roundup.
"These were long, long-time, high-end, dope dealers who were filling the county full of poison," explained Cherokee County Sheriff James Campbell. "Hopefully this will send them away for a long time."
The raid stemmed from indictments a federal grand jury issued on Jan. 23 that effectively charged each the 11 residents with a federal drug violation involving the distribution of more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.
Each defendant faces a minimum of 10 years and as much as a life sentence in prison as well as fines up to $10 million — if they are convicted in court in the case prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard L. Moore. Many of those arrested already have extensive criminal records.
Jacksonville Police Chief Reece Daniel said the arrests took place at 11 different locations.
"Some were in Jacksonville and some were in the county," the chief said. "All were at residences where drugs and guns were being sold and bought."
Members of the task force include the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department, the Jacksonville Police Department, and the Tyler office of the FBI.
Also present during the Monday raid were officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety's SWAT team, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the ICE Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshal's Service, and the Anderson County Sheriff's department.
A “high-risk" warrant was executed by the DPS SWAT team as part of these arrests.
Those named in the indictment include Javier Colmenero Loyola, 46; James Franklin Carpenter, 59; Bobby Joe Whiteley, 42; Brandon Wesley Kimble, 28; Christopher Trent O'Neal, 27; Toby Hill Coslett, aka "Crazy," 41; Jeffrey Rainey, AKA "Pee Wee," 49; Stile Parker Denton, 48; Morris Edward Stone, 43; James Adrien Craig, AKA "Ace," 37; and Christine Marie Hamer, 35, all according to a news release from the United States Department of Justice.
Law enforcement officials spent the morning bagging and tagging the numerous weapons, rounds of ammunition and cash seized during the raid in a room at the Jacksonville Police Department.
It's an ongoing process, the police chief said.
"This is our third operation in the past two years and thus far we have indicted and arrested over 35 suspects and charged them all in federal court in Tyler," Reece said. "Today's raid had over 100 officers involved from a variety of federal, state and local agencies. They took down a very large methamphetamine ring that was dealing drugs in both Cherokee and Anderson counties."
FBI Special Agent Chambers (first name withheld by request) characterized the bust as "extremely successful" — especially in light of the excellent cooperation from multiple law enforcement agencies.
Many of the suspects who were hauled into custody appeared stunned by the raid, the sheriff said with a laugh.
"Some of them were still in pajamas with that surprised look when they came in to be booked," he said.