Austin Coke Traffickers in Federal Pokey

Chief Art Acevedo takes sideways shot at Travis Co. attitudes towards drugs

No press conference is complete without 22 kilos of cocaine
No press conference is complete without 22 kilos of cocaine

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said Wednesday that an uptick in violent street crime and gang activity in neighborhoods across the city was the impetus for a more than two-year joint local-state-federal task force investigation that ended with 28 defendants sentenced to between three and 27 years in federal prison. "It is a good day for anyone who abhors violence," Acevedo said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

Investigators with the APD, FBI, Travis Co. Sheriff's Office, Pflugerville PD and several other Central Texas agencies joined with the Texas DPS and Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice's Office of Inspector General to crack down on a cocaine trafficking organization run through the Cinco-Tres gang (or, 5-3, which, broken down, is the 512 area code), a subset of the Bloods gang, said Acevedo. At the helm was Duane Hosea, "the head of the snake, as far as I'm concerned," Acevedo said, who is now spending 27 years in federal prison for his trafficking activities. Hosea was directly tied in with cartels south of the border in Mexico and Honduras, FBI agent Steve Hause said. The goal of the joint investigation was to break down the "entire conspiracy from the streets to Mexico," he said.

And so perhaps they have. In building the conspiracy case, Hause said that since 2005 police have seized a total of more than 450 kilos of cocaine.

Acevedo also took a couple sideways shots at the Travis Co. courthouse – seemingly both at the bench and the District Attorney's Office – saying that sending the cases through the federal system (where they would end up anyway in a joint operation), meant longer sentences and "no rocket docket here, no spank on the hands." The attitude in Austin is sometimes "dismissive" when it comes to drugs, but as a "major corridor" from Mexico through the U.S. – a "trip wire," if you will – Austin can't afford to be so lax. In the future, he said, police will look "for every opportunity we can" to send cases through the federal system – where, for example, a sentence means straight time with no parole.

Still, in the drug trade, it is also true that when a snake's head gets chopped off, another is soon likely to grow.

And so it begins again.

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