Six people, all initially named in a federal indictment last month charging them with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, pleaded guilty in November to a variety of related charges.
Four of the six pleaded guilty to distribution and possession, while a fifth pleaded guilty to illegal use of a communications device. The investigation led to the sixth person pleading guilty to operating an illegal gaming operation in Amarillo.
Simon Orlando Chavez Jr., Ruben Deleon, Anthony “Chachi” Deleon and Jimmy Cordova each pleaded guilty Nov. 8 to one count of distribution and possession with intent. They each face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Ira Newton Davis pleaded guilty Nov. 8 to one count of unlawful use of a communication facility — using a telephone to facilitate the commission of a crime. The crime carries a sentence of up to four years in prison.
Tiffany Lashell Copley, identified in court documents as Chavez’s girlfriend, pleaded guilty Nov. 15 to one count of operating an illegal gambling business.
U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings has not set sentencing dates.
The six were named in an Oct. 9 indictment with several other crimes charged.
According to court documents, Chavez, 37, had been under investigation since June 2011. The charge he pleaded to involved a drug deal at Club Rio on June 15, 2011, in which he arranged for the sale of an ounce of methamphetamine for $1,600.
In addition, court documents state Anthony Deleon, 22, was distributing methamphetamine for Chavez.
DEA agents were investigating Anthony Deleon. Their suspicions about him were confirmed during a search of Chavez’ home in the 5000 block of 14th Street in March 2013.
Officers who searched the home found a large amount of cash and Chavez’s drug ledger, which contained records of several transactions with Anthony Deleon, who admitted the records were accurate.
According to court documents, Cordova, 39, was arrested after Lubbock police served a search warrant for a storage unit he was renting and found more than 50 grams of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, weighing scales and a ledger.
In addition, he was carrying more than $1,500 cash in his pockets.
Court documents said Plainview resident Ruben Deleon, 38, was a target of a Texas Department of Public Safety investigation in March. Ruben Deleon had allegedly told Davis and another individual to pick up a quantity of methamphetamine in Muleshoe and deliver it to him in Lubbock.
DPS stopped the vehicle and Davis, 42, consented to the search; the methamphetamine was recovered.
Davis’ plea was based on investigators finding a number of text messages between him and Ruben Deleon working out the logistics of the methamphetamine collection.
Copley came under suspicion in late 2011 when the Potter County Attorney’s office contacted several federal agencies — DEA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Internal Revenue Service — about an operation called Calling Kings Sweepstakes in Amarillo.
According to court records, Copley was running the operation from the 14th Street house where where she and Chavez lived.
Undercover investigators visited Calling Kings at least five times, court documents said. There, they played games on a computer terminal, and in several cases won cash sums as large as $90.
On one occasion, court documents say, DEA agents followed Copley to Amarillo, where she picked up money from Calling Kings and brought it back to Lubbock, where the money was deposited in three banks.
In addition to the pleas, federal attorneys are in the midst of legal action to retain cash and two cars seized from Simon Orlando Chavez Jr. and Tiffany Lashell Copley in connection with the criminal enterprises.
DEA agents seized more than $202,000 in cash from the couple, including more than $147,000 from the couple’s home.
Court documents show federal agents also found $50,000 in a safe deposit box at Muleshoe State Bank, and about $5,200 in three accounts at Prosperity Bank.
In addition, federal agents seized two cars considered high-performance vehicles, a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS and a 2012 Dodge Challenger R/T.
A forfeiture order seeks access to at least $400,000 think to be the proceeds of the criminal activity.