2 Jasper County men, Houston woman plead guilty to federal drug trafficking charges

2 Jasper County men, Houston woman plead guilty to federal drug trafficking charges
Gavel on sounding block (Source: Gray News)

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas

BEAUMONT, Texas (News Release) - Two Buna, Texas, men and a Houston woman have pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking crimes in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown today.

James Joseph Fabela, 41, Benjamin Jason Fabela, 35, both of Buna, Texas, and Darian Michelle Simmons, 25, of Houston, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn. Simmons also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money.

According to information presented in court, from as early as July 2016, the defendants have been involved in a drug trafficking enterprise trafficking methamphetamine in the Buna, Texas area. James Fabela and Benjamin Fabela have supervised, managed and controlled the drug trafficking organization with personal knowledge of the distribution of methamphetamine. In total, the organization sold nearly 200 grams of methamphetamine in the Southeast Texas area. Their plea agreements include the forfeiture of a home in Buna, Texas. Simmons arranged for couriers to transport and conceal drugs and money to and from Houston for further distribution in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana. Simmons is responsible for distributing at least 1.028 kilograms of methamphetamine.

The defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury on Sep. 5, 2018.

Under federal statutes, the defendants face from 10 years to life in prison for the drug conspiracy charge. Simmons also faces up to up to 20 years for the money laundering conspiracy violations. The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

This case is the result of an extensive joint investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply. Six other defendants have been convicted and sentenced for their roles in the conspiracies.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Rapp.