DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
BURNET — After a six-month investigation spanning from Mexico to two Bertram-area residences, law enforcement officials announced Dec. 4 the arrest of 15 people allegedly involved in the trafficking, storing and distribution of methamphetamines.
“It’s a big step in bringing down this organization,” said Burnet County District Attorney Sonny McAfee.
Police are still looking to arrest nine more individuals in relation to the investigation. All 15 are charged with the first-degree felony of engaging in organized criminal activity, but more charges could be coming as the investigation continues.
The arrests came after state, local and federal law enforcement officers raided two Betram-area residences. One of the properties was the residence of Jimmy Don Hardin, 42, while the other was that of Glen Alexander, 70. Officials said Hardin and his associates were distributing and selling 4-5 pounds of meth each month during the past six months. Officers put the street value of that amount at $200,000.
“This was a significant operation,” Burnet County Sheriff W.T. Smith said.
Investigators seized 70 firearms, $10,000 in cash, more than 8,000 rounds of ammunition and two ounces of meth from the residences. The firearms included handguns, shotguns, assorted rifles such as semi-automatic weapons and at least one silencer.
They also found several pieces of body armor during the investigation.
State law enforcement officials said several of the firearms had been stolen. Along with the guns, drugs and cash, officers recovered many other pieces of stolen property that were allegedly used to barter for meth.
Major Jose Morales of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigation Division said all the methamphetamines distributed by this organization came from Mexico.
That trend appears to be growing.
“In the years past, Mexican organized crime has begun to monopolize the meth,” said Greg Thrash of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Officials said the methamphetamines allegedly being distributed from the Burnet County organization traveled from Mexico through San Antonio, Austin and Cedar Park before ending up at the Bertram-area residences.
Criminal investigators said Hardin and his associates allegedly distributed methamphetamines in Williamson, Burnet, Llano, Travis, Bell, Blanco, Lampasas and Bastrop counties. Investigators identified about 70 people who allegedly used or sold meth that they directly purchased from Hardin and his associates.
McAfee said the bust would have a significant impact on meth distribution in Burnet County and the surrounding area.
But the raid was not indicative of a problem only plaguing Burnet County.
McAfee said other prosecutors and law enforcement officials from across Texas and the nation have told him their communities are struggling with the rampant use of methamphetamines. He praised the law enforcement agencies and officers who helped make these arrests happen.
“We all talk about making our community a safer place to live, to work,” he said. “This is where it all happens.”
The investigation was a cooperative effort among 13 different state, local and federal agencies. Thrash said it was that kind of effort that allowed investigators to piece together all the information that led to the arrests and seizure of the guns and cash.
“We don’t have a problem connecting the dots in the greater-Austin area,” he said.
Law enforcement investigators arrested and charged the following people with first-degree engaging in criminal activity in relation to the six-month investigation:
• Jimmy Don Hardin, 42 of Bertram
• Amy Jo Borseth, 40, of Bertram
• Timothy Steven Blackard, 44, of Bertram
• Glen Winston Alexander, 70, of Bertram
• Abel Cardoso, 52, of Dallas
• Guillermo Reyna, 55, of Bastrop
• Kimberly Ann Weston, 38, of Burnet
• Elizabeth Hope Burch, 48, of Llano
• Gary Randall Holland, 36, of Bertram
• Nichole Alexander Hernandez, 32 of Liberty Hill
• Edward Dwaine Holder, 50, of Burnet
• Christopher Castillo, 41, of Burnet
• Cheyloh Jesse James Mather, 33, of Liberty Hill
• Bonnie Hardin Raines, 64, of Llano
• Joy Ashely Perez, 28, of Liberty Hill