Heavily-armed agents raid East Texas ranch with cartel links



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Posted on September 22, 2010 at 5:55 PM

FBI raid

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The FBI raided an East Texas compound early Wednesday morning. Agents said the suspects have ties to drug cartels in Mexico and were trafficking drugs, assault rifles and prostitutes.

The FBI used SWAT teams and heavy military equipment in the pre-dawn raid. They were worried about the potential firepower on the compound.

They served what is called a "no-knock" warrant — basically went in unannounced and raided the ranch outside Henderson, Texas.

Federal authorities believe the ring leader is a man named Victor Hernandez Jr. He lives on the ranch with his brothers and parents.

Hernandez is said to have strong links to a violent Mexican drug cartel, and may be supplying them with assault rifles.

They believe the clan also traffics in millions of dollars worth of drugs, specifically ICE or methamphetamine.

In court documents released Wednesday, the FBI said the Hernandez clan "makes frequent trips to Mexico, taking with them a large number of weapons and then returning with large quantities of drugs."

The family is also allegedly involved in "selling fraudulent social security cards and U.S. Immigration green cards ... while receiving government assistance in the form of food stamps, which they used to buy various items and sold them for cash."

The Hernandez family is said to be the major supplier of illegal drugs in that part of the state. Sources said the U.S. attorney himself from the Eastern District of Texas went along on the raid.

The federal government has made it a priority in recent years to shut down factions of cartels in Texas.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com