DENVER — Following a two-year criminal drug investigation, 28 arrests were made during raids early Friday following the indictment of 54 defendants named in four separate indictments charging various violations of the Controlled Substances Act.
These arrests and indictments were announced by U.S. Attorney John Walsh, District of Colorado, and the Metro Gang Task Force, which includes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Twelve defendants have not been apprehended, and are actively being sought by law enforcement; 14 defendants were already in custody prior to Friday's takedown.
In addition to these arrests, agents and officers recovered two pounds of methamphetamine, about $40,000 in cash, and two firearms. These seizures were in addition to evidence found during the pendency of the two unrelated investigations. The investigations, which were initiated in March 2012, resulted in confiscating the following additional evidence: 19,329.88 gross grams of methamphetamine, 614 gross grams of cocaine, 11.14 gross grams of heroin, 6.5 gross grams of MDMA (Ecstasy), and 18,287.8 gross grams of marijuana. In addition, 13 guns, two cars and $94,825.
The four indictments charged defendants from two separate and unrelated drug trafficking organizations (DTOs). The drugs being trafficked by both DTOs include: cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana. These investigations determined that some drugs being distributed throughout Metro Denver and along the Front Range came from Mexico. Some of these defendants, who were responsible for trafficking these drugs, are known for being involved with or having ties to others involved in violent crimes.
In the first DTO, known as "Operation Gangster Disciples," 21 defendants were named in two separate related indictments returned by a federal grand jury in Denver on charges ranging from Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute to distribution of various drugs, including: cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, and heroin. The DTO was allegedly run by defendant Ricky Kamil Garrison. In addition to drug trafficking charges, Garrison faces a charge for travel with the purpose of engaging in interstate prostitution. Another defendant, James Tillmon, faces state charges for hit and run. Some of the defendants in this DTO are members or associates of the Gangster Disciples (GD) gang. All face various drug trafficking related charges. In addition to the drug charges, various members in these indictments also face charges, including felons possessing firearms, and distributing dangerous drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.
The following (all Colorado residents) were arrested June 6 related to the Gangster Disciples investigation:
- Francisco Aguilar, 38, Denver,
- Shawn Beardsley, 45, Aurora,
- Travis Edwards, 52, Aurora,
- Dondrai Fisher, 41, Aurora,
- Jesus Molina-Villarreal, 45, Aurora,
- Archie Poole, age 37, Aurora,
- Francisco Ramirez, 32, Aurora,
- Simeon Ramirez, 40, Denver,
- Javier Segura-Cisneros, 27, Aurora,
- Khari Smith, 37, Aurora,
- Sidney Taylor, 48, Denver,
- Christopher Vigil, 27, Denver,
- Latoya Wimbush, 29, Aurora, and
- Melvin Turner, 38, Aurora.
The following individuals were indicted, but have not yet been arrested related to the Gangster Disciples investigation:
- Christopher Martinez, 33, Aurora,
- Luis Ramirez, 25, Thornton,
- Gregory Williams, 53, Arvada, and
- Name Unknown, age and residence unknown.
The following individuals were already in custody before the June 6 operation related to the Gangster Disciples investigation:
- Ricky Kamil Garrison, 30,
- James Tillmon, 30, and
- Robert Painter, 44.
In the second DTO, known as the "Gonzalez-Cepeva/Quintero" Drug Trafficking Organization, a federal grand jury in Denver handed down two additional indictments, unrelated to the Gangster Disciples DTO. In the Gonzalez-Cepeva/Quintero DTO, 33 defendants were named in two separate related indictments on charges ranging from drug trafficking to engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to import various drugs from Mexico, cash smuggling, running a drug-controlled premises, possessing a weapon by an illegal alien, possessing a weapon by a felon, interstate transportation in aid of racketeering, and possessing a weapon in connection with a drug trafficking crime. The Gonzalez-Cepeva/Quintero DTO was involved in the possession with intent to distribute, and the distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana. The marijuana was allegedly imported from California to Colorado. The Gonzalez-Cepeva/Quintero DTO has individuals with ties to the "211 Crew."
The defendants indicted in this case were arrested June 6 related to the Gonzalez-Cepeva/Quintero DTO investigation:
- Jose Castaneda-Zamora, 38, unknown,
- Noe Chavez-Gomez, 20, unknown,
- Debbi Martinez, 24, Denver,
- Rafael Quintero Gomez, 21, unknown,
- Jesus Montelongo-Talavera, 24, Westminster,
- Alberto Quintero, 23, Aurora,
- Juan Manuel Quintero, 22, unknown,
- Racquel Ramos-Sanchez, 58, San Elizario, Texas,
- Alberto Roel, 45, Edinburg, Texas,
- Robert Schaffer, 65, Fort Collins,
- Mark Singer, 41, Colby, Kansas,
- John Howard Smith, 55, Denver,
- Jessica Trejo-Huerta, 23, Mexico, and
- Servando Gandara-Chavez, 43, Denver.
The following individuals were indicted but have not yet been arrested related to the Gonzalez-Cepeva/Quintero DTO investigation:
- Jose Oceguera-Ramirez, age unknown, Mexico,
- Tomas Gonzalez-Villalobos, 43, Mexico,
- Ramona Haro-Iniquez, 44, Denver,
- Marcus Marler, 38, unknown,
- Juan Montelongo, 25, Westminster,
- Sergio Salazar-Torres, age unknown, Mexico,
- Raul Ramirez-Munoz, 42, Mexico, and
- Hector Jesus Trejo-Huerta, 27, Mexico.
The following individuals were already in custody before the June 6 operation related to the Gonzalez-Cepeva/Quintero DTO investigation:
- Antonio Gonzalez-Cepeva, 25,
- Elias Rafael Gonzalez-Cabrera, 22,
- Jesus Quintero Jr., 26,
- Gabriel Sowell, 38,
- William Brewer, 58,
- Porfiria Alejandra Faias-Contreras, 24,
- Maria Farias-Contreras, 23,
- Jesus Quintero, Sr., 46,
- Carol Hawley, 45,
- Gina Salcido, 42, and
- David Hall, 56.
"Street gangs and drugs are a recipe for a significant percentage of violent crime in cities across the country," said Kumar C. Kibble, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. "The joint investigations we pursue with many of our Denver-area based law enforcement partners target the resources of gangs and drug dealers – finances, personnel, drugs and guns – to put them out of business."
"Make no mistake: As a result of these raids, Colorado is a safer place," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. "Gangs that traffic in drugs also traffic in violence – whether by intimidation and fear, or by actual force. And while the exact impact these arrests have on the drug trade is difficult to quantify, it is safe to say that the quantity of cocaine, crack, meth and heroin available on the street have been substantially reduced as a result of today's operation."
"Today's operations are yet another illustration of how these criminal organizations will not be allowed to operate with impunity in our communities," said Thomas P. Ravenelle, special agent in charge of the FBI's Denver Division Field Office.
If convicted, the defendants face penalties ranging from not less than five years in federal prison to up to life in federal prison, depending on the count of conviction. The defendant's criminal history, and the type and amount or weight of the drugs being trafficked are factors a judge will consider at sentencing.
The indictments contain an asset forfeiture allegation. The allegation states that upon conviction, the defendants shall forfeit to the United States any and all property, real or personal, involved in such offense, or any property traceable to the crime, such as vehicles or structures, and also including but not limited to a money judgment in the amount of proceeds involved in the offense.
This case was investigated by the Metro Gang Task Force. The Metro Gang Task Force is comprised of the following agencies: Denver Division of the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Adams County Sheriff's Office, Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, Aurora Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, Commerce City Police Department, Colorado National Guard Counter Drug Unit, Denver District Attorney's Office, Denver Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program (HIDTA), the Lakewood Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff's Office, and the Thornton Police Department. Agencies assisting the Metro Gang Task Force include: the Westminster Police Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and the U.S. Marshals Service.
"Gangster Disciples" is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Phillips. "The Gonzalez-Cepeva/Quintero DTO" is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Podolak and Brad Giles.
The charges contained in the four indictments are allegations, and the defendants named in these indictments are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.