Drug Ring Comes Full Circle

Cinco-Tres gang members go to prison

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo (Photo by John Anderson)

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a June 3 press conference that a rise in violent street crime and gang activity in neighborhoods across the city was the impetus for a joint local-state-federal task force investigation that began more than two years ago and 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.

Investigators with the Austin Police Depart­ment, FBI, Travis County Sheriff's Office, Pflugerville Police Department, and several other Central Texas agencies joined with the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Office of the Inspector General to crack down on a cocaine trafficking organization run through the Cinco-Tres gang (or 5-3, which refers to 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. Hosea, now spending 27 years in federal prison for his trafficking activities, was directly connected to cartels south of the border in Mexico and Honduras, said FBI agent Steve Hause; the goal of the joint investigation was to break down the "entire conspiracy from the streets to Mexico." In building the conspiracy case, Hause said, police have seized a total of more than 450 kilos of cocaine since 2005.

Acevedo also took a couple of glancing shots at the Travis County 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) resulted in 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, Acevedo said. In the future, he added, 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.

However, in the drug trade, it remains 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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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

drug war, Art Acevedo, FBI, APD, Duane Hosea, Reefer Madness

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