South Florida sting leads to possible Texas meth distribution ring

Mexican soldiers take some synthetic drugs from a lab.
Mexican soldiers take some synthetic drugs from a lab. AP

A federal sting operation in South Florida recently helped uncover a possible methamphetamine distribution ring based in El Paso, Texas, according to federal court records.

Between March and April, a meth supplier in El Paso provided several pounds of the drug to an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration officer before the suspect was indicted June 30 by a federal grand jury, court records show.

Court records in El Paso indicate the chief suspect in the case, Derek Calderón, was arrested June 28 on a warrant issued by Fort Lauderdale federal magistrate judge Lurana Snow. Separately, a federal complaint filed by a DEA special agent against Calderón indicated that he might be a U.S. Army soldier.

The case began March 23 when a DEA confidential source in Broward County contacted Calderón to tell him that he knew a person, actually a DEA task force officer acting undercover, who wanted to buy drugs, specifically methamphetamines, according to the criminal complaint.

According to the complaint, here’s what happened:

After negotiations over the telephone, the DEA undercover officer traveled to El Paso to meet with Calderón at the Flying J truck stop on Horizon Boulevard, near the Interstate 10 interchange, just north of the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez. The meeting between the undercover officer and Calderón took place March 31 at the truck stop’s Denny’s.

During the meeting, Calderón and the undercover officer discussed possible future purchases of methamphetamines. Calderón agreed on the spot to sell to the undercover officer one pound of amphetamines for $7,500 in cash.

Subsequent shipments were brokered by one of Calderón’s partners, who told the undercover officer that in the future the amphetamines would be shipped by mail and payments should be deposited electronically in a Bank of America account.

On April 12, the undercover officer deposited $1,500 in the account electronically as a down payment. Four days later the officer received a package mailed from Phoenix, Arizona, containing one pound of methamphetamines.

Then the undercover officer received a phone call instructing him to deposit the balance of the money. The officer complied.

A subsequent transaction occurred on April 19. Calderón was arrested June 28 in El Paso and ordered sent to South Florida on July 1 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Anne T. Berton, according to court records.