Meth ring was led by owner of Fort Worth clothing store Funky Town Swag, DEA alleges

Inside the kitchen of a Fort Worth home were 27 coolers, three jugs of acetone and a bucket of a horse vitamin often used as an agent to cut methamphetamine.

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Also in the attempted lab were zip-top baggies of crystal meth in a washing machine and a loaded revolver in the master bedroom, law enforcement authorities alleged on Thursday.

Investigators said they found eight kilograms of methamphetamine.

Johnny Rodriguez Jr. tried to build a conversion lab in the home with the help of his cousin, 31-year-old Jonathan Rodriguez, Jonathan’s girlfriend, 31-year-old Chelsea Ann Pineiro, and 33-year-old Yvette Gonzalez, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas.

Dealers working for Rodriguez, the 30-year-old owner of Funky Town Swag, sold kilograms of crystal meth from the Fort Worth clothing store’s back office and from trap houses, a motel and a car wash, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday.

Thirty members of the Rodriguez-led methamphetamine distribution ring were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox said. Twenty-one were arrested on Wednesday. If convicted, each faces up to 40 years in prison.

The investigation is based on surveillance, wiretaps and interviews with cooperators and was led by DEA Dallas field division’s high intensity drug trafficking group.

During the arrests, investigators seized 16 kilograms of methamphetamine, nine ounces of heroin and nine firearms.

“Methamphetamine trafficking has no place in Tarrant County,” Eduardo Chavez, special agent in charge of the DEA Dallas field division, wrote in a statement. “Individuals and organizations who not only distribute this poison in our communities, but also endanger innocent lives by converting liquid meth to crystals in makeshift laboratories cannot be tolerated.”

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Feds bust meth ring operated by owner of Fort Worth clothing store

In a small shopping center across the street from a Fort Worth high school and a few blocks from Texas Christian University, one could buy clothing, shoes and hats out of a store called Funky Town Swag as well as methamphetamine, according to federal officials.

The DEA busted the meth ring, and 30 members of the alleged drug conspiracy have been charged as part of Operation Ice Tank, officials said.

Johnny Ray Rodriguez, Jr., the owner of the now-shuttered Funky Town Swag, was the ringleader of the group, authorities said. His lawyer could not be reached Friday for comment.

Dealers working for Rodriguez sold “kilogram quantities of crystal meth out of Funky Town’s back office as well as several trap houses, a local motel, and a car wash,” the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Rodriguez, 30, and his co-defendants are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. They each face up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

Agents on Wednesday arrested 21 of the defendants. Five more were already in state custody. And four remain fugitives. Investigators also seized 16 kilograms of methamphetamine, 9 ounces of heroin, and nine firearms.

“A highly-addictive and dangerous stimulant, methamphetamine has plagued North Texas communities for far too long. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the DEA are determined to root out large-scale distribution operations like this one,” said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas.

Rodriguez, his cousin and others tried to convert a Fort Worth home into a meth conversion lab, authorities said.

In the kitchen, agents found the following: 27 igloo coolers; a bucket containing a chemical compound often used as a cutting agent; three jugs of acetone; one container of liquid meth; and two containers of crystal meth, officials said.

They also found baggies of crystal meth inside a washing machine, a loaded gun in the master bedroom, and 8 kilograms of methamphetamine in the home, according to authorities.

“Methamphetamine trafficking has no place in Tarrant County,” said Eduardo A. Chavez, over the DEA’s Dallas division, in a statement. “Individuals and organizations who not only distribute this poison in our communities, but also endanger innocent lives by converting liquid meth to crystals in makeshift laboratories cannot be tolerated.”

The clothing store operated out of shopping center on the 2200 block of Berry Street, across from R. L. Paschal High School.

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