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Lebanon officers help out DEA in drug bust
Nov 03, 2006 12:00 am
Lebanon Police officers had a hand in seizing large amounts of cocaine and cash as part of a federal takedown.
Nine individuals were arrested as part of the Pineda Drug Organization, which has been believed to traffic cocaine through Mexico to the United States and even through Nashville.
Lebanon Police had two officers assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration in Middle Tennessee, which made the second-largest drug seizure in Middle Tennessee last week.
"This 55-kilo seizure is significant not only because of its magnitude … but also because of the disruptive impact the investigation is having on what was a major pipeline of cocaine from Mexico into our communities here in Nashville," U.S. Attorney Craig S. Morford said.
Public Safety Commissioner Billy Weeks said that, while another recent major cocaine bust failed to significantly affect prices or supply in the Cedar City, that taking out major suppliers can often have ripple effects into areas such as Wilson County.
"We were still buying cocaine and we were still paying the same price on it," Weeks said. "… These types of hits make a significant impact, but how long is it before they're replaced? That's why it's a constant operation. They're working these things all the time."
Lebanon Police supplies one full-time officer to work with the DEA, but the commissioner indicated the department loaned another officer to work on this particular case. Weeks declined to divulge his officers' specific role in the case.
Weeks paid compliments to Mayor Don Fox and the Lebanon City Council, who he said have been supportive of what can be massive overtime initially charged to the police department.
"In the end, the rewards of these things will pay off and (the mayor and council) have never questioned that," Weeks said, adding that the majority of the overtime is ultimately reimbursed.
The investigation has been ongoing for two years, focusing on the Pineda drug organization out of Dalton, Ga. Investigators uncovered that the Pineda group was allegedly importing large quantities of cocaine from Mexico to the Nashville area.
Agents believed Nashville resident Edgar Rayo-Navarro and Dalton resident Jesus Pineda Camacho were arranging the shipments. Both Navarro and Camacho were charged Friday with conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
A seizure on Oct. 18 yielded $498,083 in a hidden compartment of a Pineda courier's vehicle, and on Oct. 26 police seized 55 kilograms of cocaine in an altered gas tank in a truck in Brentwood. A residential search showed loaded shotguns and semiautomatic pistols.
In addition to Rayo-Navarro and Camacho, also arrested were Luis Mondragon-Viviano, Jorge Urquiza-Fernandez, Oscar Torres-Navarro, Javier Luviano, Luis Alonso Munoz-Rodreguez, Mario Alberto Silva-Quintanilla and Fransisco Pineda-Diaz. All face federal charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Staff Writer Jason Cox can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 45 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.