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Man charged with drug crime could have ties to Parker County homicide

Arrested drug dealer stock photo

From the Parker County Sheriff’s Office

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas announced that an Austin man with alleged ties to a Parker County double homicide has been charged with a drug crime.  

Fernando Molina, 38, was indicted this week and charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance.  

According to the federal complaint, the charges stemmed from the Parker County Sheriff’s investigation of a drug-related double homicide on April 11, 2021. Two weeks after the murders, Sheriff’s investigators executed a search warrant at the residence of Jerome Thomas Watkins, a known associate of Molina. Sheriff’s investigators seized more than 3,000 fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills, multiple firearms, and roughly 20 cell phones that contained evidence of fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin trafficking. 

Data retrieved from those cell phones led investigators to identify Molina as a suspect in the double homicide and placed an additional cell phone in proximity to the crime scene in Whitt at the time of the offense.   

Watkins was convicted at trial in November of 2021 of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin,, and fentanyl, possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, and for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He is set to be sentenced later this month.  

Parker County Sheriff’s investigators executed search warrants on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, at Molina’s home and apartment in the Austin area. Sheriff’s investigators were assisted by the Central Texas Regional SWAT team, DEA, FBI, Texas Rangers, and Pflugerville Police Department. Molina was arrested at his home, where agents seized roughly $20,230 and seven weapons from the dwelling, including a fully gold-plated pistol. During the interview with Sheriff’s investigators regarding the homicides, Molina placed himself in Whitt at the time of the homicides and made additional admissions that led investigators to believe he had some involvement in the murders. Parker County Sheriff’s investigators have charged Molina with conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the double homicide.   

Sheriff Russ Authier thanked the agencies involved in the investigation.   

“This was a very complex case which required an extensive investigation demanding months of collaborative effort between the agencies involved,” Authier said. “We are appreciative for the cooperation and assistance of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Dallas Field Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Dallas Field Office – Fort Worth Resident Agency, the Texas Rangers, the Central Texas Regional SWAT team and the Pflugerville Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit, which assisted in collaboration to conduct the investigation, and in making these arrests. This investigation was classified as a HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) operation. We are also grateful for our continued working relationship with local, state and federal agencies. As this investigation continues, we anticipate additional charges being filed.” 

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