Nineteen people were charged this week in connection to an alleged heroin distribution ring that authorities claim they busted on Thursday with raids on several homes and businesses including Jovita's restaurant in South Austin.
Of those charged, 15 defendants have been indicted by a federal grand jury with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of heroin. According to the indictment, the defendants had been plotting to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin since May 2011. If found guilty, each defendant faces between ten years and life in prison.
The nearly year-long investigation, called Operation Muerte Negra, was a joint operation between Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
On Thursday morning, FBI agents executed search warrants at two homes in the 400 block of Milton Street in south Austin behind Jovita's Mexican restaurant. Authorities walked away from the properties with boxes of evidence collected from inside, including computers and hard drives.
Narcotics dogs were seen walking around the property as agents used shovels to dig up areas in the front yards of both residences.
Investigators say Amado Pardo, a.k.a. "Mayo," led the criminal operation and was responsible for daily heroin trafficking. Pardo is also the owner of Jovita's. Investigators allege that narcotics sales were conducted from the restaurant. They estimate that the suspects generated between $3,400 to $6,250 in daily sales.
The following suspects were indicted on the federal charges:
AMADO PARDO Age: 64 of Austin, Texas
JORGE CARRILLO Age: 44 of Lockhart, Texas
JOSE PARDO Age: 68 of Austin, Texas
AMANDA PARDO Age: 45 of Austin, Texas
TATIANA HUANG Age: 25 of Austin, Texas
MICHAEL MARTINEZ Age: 66 of Austin, Texas
ALFREDO ALVAREZ Age: 62 of Austin, Texas
DAVID SOSA Age: 42 of Austin, Texas
LUCY ESTRADA Age: 32 of Austin, Texas
DIONICIO SANCHEZ Age: 62 of Austin, Texas
CHRIS MIER Age: 32 of Austin, Texas
TERRY AYERS Age: 65 of Austin, Texas
KILPATRICK WILLIAMS Age: 46 of Austin, Texas
LEAH DAY Age: 24 of Austin, Texas
JEFFREY FINN Age: 45 of Shenandoah, Texas
In addition to these suspects, four people are facing state felony charges for either possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute or possession of a controlled substance. They were:
ROBERT TISSING Age: 25
JENNIFER ABEYTA Age: 22
SAMANTHA JO MURPHY Age: 20
BRYAN HARWELL Age: 51