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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Meacham: Drug dealers guilty of "sowing fear and agony" get decades behind bars

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Nearly 40 drug dealers in the Lubbock, Tex., area have been sentenced to more than four centuries in prison after being convicted for methamphetamine trafficking and other federal crimes, the U.S. Department of Justice announced recently.

Chad E. Meacham, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, announced the sentences on Sept. 28. The 39 defendants charged and convicted in Operation "Taste the Rainbow" received a combined total of 415 years in federal prison for distributing methamphetamine in and around Lubbock, the DOJ reports, as well as unlawful possession of firearms and conspiracy. They were charged in September 2021 in a series of three indictments brought by the investigation, the report states.

"Those put behind bars by this operation included many violent recidivists;" the DOJ states in the report, "between them, the convicted defendants have been previously charged with 31 assaults, nine burglaries, three robberies, a murder, 24 firearm crimes, 69 serious controlled substance violations, three terroristic threats, a forgery, 12 frauds, and a child sexual assault."

More than 200 agents from nine law enforcement agencies, the DOJ reports. including the Dallas divisions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Lubbock Police Department and Country Sheriff's Office, and Homeland Security Investigations, participated in Operation "Taste the Rainbow," according to the DOJ.

“Thanks to the hard work of literally hundreds of officers and agents, along with a few dedicated prosecutors, we are keeping 39 of Lubbock’s most violent drug traffickers off the streets,” Meacham said in the report. “We know, based on their criminal histories, that these men and women were not only dealing large quantities of drugs but sowing fear and agony in the community. We are proud to put them behind bars.”

The convicted persons received prison sentences ranging from 15 months to 324 months; the final defendant, Jesse "JJ" Martinez Jr., received a 262-month sentence on Sept. 28. According to the DOJ, "Martinez acknowledged his authorization of the sale of methamphetamine to a secret informant and giving of instructions to one of his associates to make the delivery."

Dallas FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno said law enforcement "heard the concerns" of residents and "brought every possible resource" to the investigation.

“Today’s final sentencing illustrates the commitment we have to ensure people and families can live in their neighborhoods without living in fear,” DeSarno said. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners every day to target the diverse and dangerous threats that drive violence in our communities.”

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