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12 arrested in DeWitt County undercover operation

By Sonny Long
June 27, 2011 at 1:27 a.m.


OPERATION PILL CRUSHER Arrests

Below is a list of those arrested on Saturday, June 25, their age, residence, what they are charged with and their total bond:

Marcus Oshay Arkadie, 38, Yoakum: Manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance, $50,000

Juanita Zapata Cano, 50, Kenedy: Manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance, $25,000

Daniel Garcia, 54, Yorktown: Manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance, four charges, $200,000

Andrew Kukala, 58, Cuero: Delivery of a controlled substance, $25,000

Francisco Larry Naranjo, 55, Yorktown: Manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance, $75,000

Santos Perez, 49, Yorktown: Manufacture of delivery of a controlled substance, $75,000

Guadalupe Rios, 65, Yorktown: Manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance, $25,000

Paul Rodriguez, 29, Yorktown: Manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance, two charges, $150,000

Steven Rene Rodriguez, 40, Victoria: Manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance, two charges, $50,000

David Gonzales Salinas, 46, Yorktown: Manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance, $25,000

Johnny Lee Smith, 20, Yorktown: Delivery of marijuana, two charges, $28,000

Phillip Nolan Walker, 38, Nordheim: Manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance, $75,000

DeWitt County Sheriff Jode Zavesky hopes Operation Pill Crusher put a dent in the prescription pill drug trade in his county, but he's also a realist.

"It's just the beginning, I'm afraid," Zavesky said, after a dozen county residents were arrested Saturday in an undercover operation that began last year.

Twenty-four warrants were issued on 39 different charges.

In addition to those arrested Saturday, nine had been taken into custody prior to the round up. Three remain at-large, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.

The operation began in response to several complaints by residents of drug trafficking in the Yorktown area.

The initial plan was to target those who were selling prescription medications, but as with most narcotics investigations, it leads to other illicit narcotics transactions as well, according to the news release.

In addition to prescription pill sales, some arrests also were made on marijuana and cocaine charges.

"It has become so easy," Zavesky said about selling prescription pills. "It's very simple to fake an injury or back pain, or say your back is still hurting after you've had an injury. It's not the doctors' fault."

Zavesky said many of the undercover buyers were told to come back when it was time for the sellers to get their prescriptions refilled.

The sheriff said sellers are also filing false reports of their prescriptions being stolen so they can take a police report to the doctor or drug store and get a refill.

"An ambitious seller could go see four different doctors in one day and complain of back pain and then get four different prescriptions filled at four different drug stores," said the sheriff.

"They are getting $5 a pill," Zavesky said.

Most of prescription drugs being sold were Lortab, a painkiller combining hydrocodone and acetaminophen.

"If you look at the ages of those arrested for selling pills, it's become another source of income for them," Zavesky said.

The Yorktown Police Department and Texas Department of Public Safety assisted the sheriff's office with Saturday's arrests.

Previous arrests were also made by the Lavaca County Sheriff's Office and Victoria County Sheriff's Office, according to the news release.

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