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Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Arrest Seven throughout Central Texas for Methamphetamine Distribution Operation

Federal and state authorities arrested seven individuals in McLennan, Bell and Coryell counties for their roles in a methamphetamine distribution operation, announced U.S. Attorney John F. Bash; Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Steven S. Whipple, Houston Division; and, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw.

Those arrested today include:  Rodney Macpherson (aka “Todd”), age 51 of Temple, TX; Anna Ruetz (aka “Dani”), age 30 of Waco; Blake Deeann Blanchard, age 30 of Gatesville, TX; Shae Lynn Rice, age 55 of McGregor, TX; Lamarcus Lamond Minter, age 41 of Moody, TX; and, Roberto Gonzalez, age 34 of McGregor.  Ulysses Lopez, age 46 of McGregor, was already in state custody prior to today.

A federal grand jury indictment unsealed today charges the defendants with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. 

Those seven are a follow-up to 15 arrests earlier this year in connection with this investigation, including 25-year-old McGregor resident Gabriel Flores-Benitez.  Authorities allege that under the leadership of Flores-Benitez, this organization was responsible for the sale and distribution of large amounts of methamphetamine throughout Central Texas since May 2019. 

Authorities, to date, have seized approximately two kilograms of methamphetamine and three firearms attributable to this drug trafficking organization.

“Transnational and violent drug traffickers should take note that federal, state, and local law enforcement in Central Texas is well organized, cooperative and highly effective,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Whipple. “This investigation is an excellent example of how area law enforcement agencies work together to make this community safer.”

Upon conviction, MacPherson faces between ten years and life in federal prison.  The remaining defendants face between five and 40 years in federal prison upon conviction. 

The Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division, DEA, 220th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Bosque County Sheriff’s Office, Hamilton Police Department, Comanche Police Department and Coryell County Sheriff’s Office investigated this case.  The Temple Police Department, Bell County Sheriff’s Department, McLennan County Sheriff’s Department, McGregor Police Department, Comanche County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Marshals Service provided valuable assistance during this investigation. 

All of those arrested today remain in federal custody.  Detention hearings are expected to occur next week before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Manske in Waco. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Frazier and Stephanie Smith-Burris are prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.

It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

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