This week, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas John M. Bales announced to the media that federal authorities have taken possession of almost two million dollars in cash ($1.7 million) as well as arresting seventeen (17) people in a big sting operation operated by the Texas Department of Public Safety (leading agency) and the Wylie Police Department, the Collin County Sheriff’s Office, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives also helped out.
This announcement is on the heels of U.S. Attorney John Bales announcement that his office had overseen the indictment of 11 people in Cherokee County for meth trafficking. That was a big bust over in the Tyler, Texas area where another federal/state/local tag team of law enforcement agencies worked together to bust a bunch of people on drug charges after taking their investigation to the local grand jury which then issued the indictments.
Targeting drug traffickers isn’t news: drug trafficking has been the focus of law enforcement (state and federal) for awhile now. In fact, Mexico has been involved in these trafficking investigations, too, having announced awhile back that they would be going after drug trafficking operations instead of focusing on drug cartels. What’s Mexico got to do with it? Well, Mexico product is a big part of the marijuana market here in Texas and around the country. Mexico marijuana operations aren’t just in Mexico: Mexican marijuana growers have found it to be very profitable to grow their product here in the United States (e.g., big national parks, like those in California) and then move that product to distribution centers around the country without bothering with international border check points.
It’s not known where the Marijuana in the Rodgers bust was grown. It is clear that this was a long-standing marijuana distribution and sales operation that was doing well (it was a profitable and apparently stable business until the bust).
In the marijuana bust, the sting operation had been going on for almost 3 years and the Feds had given it a nickname, the “Rufus Rodgers Marijuana Group.” Who was Rufus? Apparently, one of the accused is a man named Rufus Delane Rodgers who is now being considered as the mastermind of this marijuana marketing operation.
Seems that Rufus Rodgers allegedly had built up a trade route between Phoenix and Tucson to Dallas and Fort Worth. Rufus’ creative thinking, according to the indictment, was to move or transport a huge amount of product (1000s of pounds, it’s reported) over Arizona and Texas roads by using a horse trailer that had a special design: secret compartments in which to place the marijuana that could hold up over 1000 lbs per trip. (By the way, Rufus’ marijuana was supposed to be top quality: in the words of the authorities, it was “high grade.”) They’d also have horses in the trailer, with feed and such.
Rufus Rodgers and his gang (or employees, depending upon your perspective here) moved lots of marijuana from Arizona to Texas to sell and then allegedly used the same horse trailer to bring back the revenue from Texas to Arizona. Of course, this being a drug operation, the revenue would be in cash. This being a business, the indictment does recognize that some of the revenue went back into the business to buy more product for future sales.
Caught by the Wylie Snitch
Mr. Rodgers’ operation apparently cruised along the roads of Arizona and Texas without a problem until someone in Wylie, Texas, snitched to the local police. Ultimately, this led to this month’s big bust where Mr. Rodgers’ horse trailer was searched and around $700,000 cash was found in the trailer’s secret cubby holes along with some ledgers. Guns were taken, too. Search warrants served on a Dallas County storage unit lead to the authorities taking away more guns and $900,000.00 in cash which had been safeguarded in five different safes.
Charges of Conspiracy to Possess With Intent to Distribute Marijuana, Possessing a Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking
Now, the Rodgers folk (“conspirators”) have been indicted on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana. Mr. Rodgers and Joe Dell Sterling face additional charges because of the guns: weapons charges of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
All but one man has pled guilty.
What Happened to All That Cash?
As for all the money that was discovered in those searches, U.S. Attorney Bales announced that this is how it’s being split up:
- Texas Department of Public Safety $1,119,360.20 (65%)
- Asset Forfeiture Fund $ 344,416.00 (20%)
- Wylie Police Department $ 86,104.63 (5%)
- Dallas County Sheriff’s Office $ 86,104.63 (5%)
- Collin County Sheriff’s Office $ 68,883.70 (4%)
- Dallas County District Attorney’s Office $ 17,220.93 (1%)