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Major drug bust leads to nearly 40 arrests

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Photos of illegal drugs and thousands of dollars in cash represent a months-long investigation resulting in nearly 40 arrests. 

"What we identified was a large scale organization, very structured, very well organized with shots being called by bosses in Mexico," said U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman Thursday morning.

Federal, state and local law enforcement worked together to bust two related drug trafficking operations based in Austin. In one of them, officials say methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin was hidden in vehicles in Mexico. It was shipped to a defendant's business called JT Body & Paint in East Austin. The drugs were then distributed thought out Austin or went on to other cities.

Authorities say it's the first time they've seen such vast quantities of meth coming through Austin.

"The investigation has revealed the organization is responsible for moving more than 50 kilograms of meth to and through Austin per month. And in the other case over 50 kilograms of cocaine to and through Austin," Greg Thrash with the Drug Enforcement Agency told media.

As cartels continue to use Texas cities as hubs, DPS now has a valuable asset to fight the war on drugs. The department's newest airplane, a Cessna 208 Caravan, was named in honor of DPS agent Patrick Randel, who was killed in the line of duty by drug dealers in 1974. The plane features state of the art equipment to assist in search operations.

"Having the ability to have this type of equipment behind us that can provide 24/7 surveillance on target in the area, the type of optics that will allow us to see those situations," said DPS Director Steven McCraw.

It's tools like that and a coordinated effort by law enforcement that will strengthen the fight on illegal drug operations in Texas

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