Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Drug Trafficking Ring - From Mexico to Warehouse in Commerce City...

Jeffco Grand Jury Indicts 23 in $36M Drug Trafficking Ring

(GOLDEN, CO — July 11, 2011) A Jefferson County Grand Jury returned a 96-count indictment against 23 people suspected of being involved in a major drug trafficking ring in the Denver metropolitan area. The indictment was returned on June 3, 2011. It is estimated that this organization was bringing over 45,000 pounds of marijuana, with a street value of $36M, into the Denver area each year.

Detectives with the West Metro Drug Task Force, assisted by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), began their investigation into the suspected drug ring in May, 2010. They found that large tour buses were being used to transport thousands of pounds of marijuana from Mexico to a warehouse in Commerce City. The marijuana had been compressed into “brick” form and was hidden in specialized compartments which had been installed underneath the buses.

From May 2010 until April 2011, the buses traveled twice a week from Mexico to the warehouse in Commerce City, carrying over 400 pounds of marijuana each time. The compressed marijuana has a street value of $50 per ounce and $800 a pound.

During the course of the investigation detectives seized: 14 vehicles; seven firearms; 1,172 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $937,600; two kilograms of cocaine with a street value of $64,000; 53 grams of methampheta- mine with a street value of $3,200; and $134,000 in cash.

“This is great example of teamwork between local and federal law enforcement agencies in Colorado and our neighboring states. An operation of this size requires extraordinary organization and expertise,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey, “With the West Metro Drug Task Force leading the way, a major drug ring bringing large quantities of drugs into the our community has been dismantled.”

One of the most violent and feared Mexican drug cartels, Los Zetas, is believed to be the source of this marijuana distribution operation. The operation was based in Durango, Mexico.

Conrado Arellano-Casas, 32, is alleged to be the ringleader of the Colorado branch of the drug trafficking operation. A search warrant executed at his Arvada home led detectives to a loaded AK47, other firearms and over $30,000 in cash.

Jose Jimenez-Chacon, 30, is believed to be the ringleader of the U.S. operation. He lives in El Paso, Texas where he was arrested by the DEA on the Jefferson County warrant.

Detectives estimate that up to 75% of the drugs transported into Colorado was intended for distribution and sale in the Denver metro area.

Eighteen of the twenty-three men have been arrested. The remaining five are believed to be in Mexico. Ten of those arrested are believed to be on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holds.

The defendants have each been charged according to their alleged criminal conduct. Six of the men were charged with Racketeering in addition to other counts. The charges include Racketeering - Violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, a class two felony; Special Offender – Importation of Marijuana, 100 pounds or more, class two felony; Distribution of more than 100 pounds of marijuana, a class three felony; Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, a class three felony.

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