The office of the Springfield, Southern Division, U.S. District Court. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

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Three Greene County residents were among the five people indicted for their alleged roles in a drug-trafficking conspiracy after federal agents seized 16 kilograms (35 pounds) of cocaine in Texas.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri, Mario Jose Castillo, 55, of Springfield; Christhian Eduardo Cruz-Pineda, 22, a citizen of Honduras residing in Springfield; Johnathan David Emerson, 47, a resident of Willard; were charged in a 10-count superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield.

Bryan Ramirez-Aguero, 33, a citizen of Honduras, and Erika Martinez Hernandez, 40, a citizen of Mexico, both residing in Grand Prairie, Texas, were also charged.

The superseding indictment replaces an indictment returned in April of 2024 with similar charges, but increases the amount of cocaine allegedly distributed and lengthens the timeframe of the conspiracy to incorporate an additional drug seizure.

16 kilos of cocaine in a Texas house

According to the release, federal agents arrested Ramirez-Aguero and Martinez Hernandez on April 11, 2024. At the time arrests were made for the original indictment, agents seized approximately 16 kilograms of cocaine and $145,123 from their residence. Today’s superseding indictment reflects that drug seizure.

The federal indictment announced Tuesday, May 15, 2024, alleges that all five of the defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine from Dec. 12, 2021, to April 11, 2024.

In addition to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, Castillo is charged with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one count of possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute, and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

Castillo, Emerson and Martinez Hernandez are charged together in one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Castillo and Martinez Hernandez are charged together in one count of unlawfully using a telephone to facilitate the drug-trafficking conspiracy. Castillo and Emerson are charged together in one count of money laundering.

Emerson and Cruz-Pineda are charged together in one count of possessing 500 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to distribute.

Cruz-Pineda is charged with one count of being an unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm.

Jackie Rehwald

Jackie Rehwald is a reporter at the Hauxeda. She covers public safety, the courts, homelessness, domestic violence and other social issues. Her office line is 417-837-3659. More by Jackie Rehwald