(TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH/KYTX) - Six people arrested in Smith County last week on drug trafficking, illegal gambling and money laundering charges have drug cartel ties, according to Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith.
He said the arrests were a result of a year-long investigation that involved multiple local, state and federal agencies and the cooperation of a former Smith County deputy arrested last year on drug-related charges.
U.S. Attorney John M. Bales said last week that the six people had been arrested following a lengthy investigation into illegal gambling, money laundering and drug trafficking in the Eastern District of Texas.
Bales said a combined task force of federal, state and local law enforcement executed six federal arrest warrants and four federal search warrants in the Tyler and Gladewater area as a result of a joint investigation by the FBI, Smith County Sheriff's Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Texas Racing Commission.
Bales said the operation resulted in the arrest of all six defendants and the seizure of over $30,000 cash, methamphetamine and several firearms.
The following defendants were arrested and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell on charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, prohibition of illegal gambling businesses and conspiracy to money launder:
Omar Bonifacio Bonilla, 32, AKA "Pelon," Renault Lansing Kay, 47, AKA "Nault Pete" or "Chocolate," Jessica Maria Bonilla, 31, Joel Orlando Bonilla-Loya, 36, Guillermo Rivera-Bonilla, 58 and Sheena Shavette Perry, 31, all of Tyler.
If convicted, the defendants face as much as life in federal prison.
Homeland Security-Deportation and Removal Operations, Tyler Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety also assisted in the arrests and searches.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank Coan and Richard Moore.
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