DENVER — On Thursday morning, 350 agents and officers of Denver's Metro Gang Task Force and other agencies arrested people who have been charged by indictment with drug trafficking crimes. Thirty-three people were arrested throughout Colorado's "Front Range" April 25. Five of those indicted were already in custody on unrelated charges; three remain fugitives.
The Metro Gang Task Force is comprised of the following agencies: the 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 National Guard, Commerce City Police Department, Denver District Attorney's Office, Denver Police Department, Englewood Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Rocky Mountain HIDTA and the Thornton Police Department.
Earlier this week the U.S. Attorney's Office obtained three indictments charging two unrelated drug trafficking organizations. The investigation and the indictments were obtained by the U.S. Attorney-led Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).
"These numerous arrests are the culmination of a lengthy, multi-agency investigation targeting a violent street gang and drug trafficking organization," said Kumar C. Kibble, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. "Homeland Security Investigations routinely works together with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to remove these hard-core criminal elements from our streets, and help make our communities safer."
The first indictment charged 19 people with cocaine and crack cocaine-trafficking crimes. Many of those charged in this operation, known as "Pig Pen," are affiliated with a local violent street gang.
The second and third indictments charged 22 people with cocaine and methamphetamine-trafficking crimes. This operation is known as "Xterra Range."
The second indictment charged defendants with knowingly and intentionally distributing and possessing with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.
The third indictment charged defendants with knowingly and intentionally distributing and possessing with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine (actual) and 500 grams or more of a mixture containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine. The methamphetamine, most of which was 90 percent pure, was trafficked from Mexico to Colorado through California.
In one instance, money was found in a sophisticated hidden compartment underneath the seat of a vehicle. In another instance, the methamphetamine was found in a hidden compartment built into the frame of a vehicle. Some of the methamphetamine was sent from California to Colorado in liquid form, some of which was then crystallized once it arrived in Denver. This is a new way of smuggling methamphetamine into the state. Two defendants also face federal firearm charges.
In the "Pig Pen" indictment, the following 19 defendants have been charged: Brandon Lee Brown, Jerrica Allen, Hubert Asberry, Marcus Baker, Brandon Dujuan Brown, Crystal Butler, Wesley Conner, Rodney Delatorre Reyna, Kent Hooks, Stephanie Kirby, Arturo Martinez, Dusty Medeiros, Jamila Powers, Sorl Shead Jr., Leon Simmons, Richard Stephenson, Arnell Stewart, Julian Wheeler and Leonard Wright.
The highest charge each defendant faces in "Pig Pen" is knowingly and intentionally conspiring to distribute, and possess with the intent to distribute one or more of the following: 280 grams or more of crack cocaine, and 500 grams or more of cocaine. If convicted, each defendant faces a penalty of not less than 10 years, and not more than life in federal prison, as well as a fine of up to $4 million.
In the cocaine "Xterra Range" indictment, the following eight have been charged: Marco Ontiveros, Pedro Lujano-Gonzalez, Carlos Antillon-Fernandez, Ernesto Garcia, Jose Guadalupe Morales-Martinez, Bernardino Gamillo, Juan Sandoval and Jesus Garcia-Salas.
The highest charge each defendant faces is knowingly and intentionally conspiring with each other to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. If convicted, each defendant faces not less than 10 years, and not more than life in federal prison, as well as a fine of up to $4 million.
In the methamphetamine "Xterra Range" indictment, the following 19 have been charged: Fernando Mendoza-Gomez, Eliseo Avalos-Torres, Pedro Lujano-Gonzalez, Carlos Salcido-Garcia, Ernesto Garcia, Raul Mendoza-Lopez, Santos Adolfo Funez, Federico Lopez, Jose Escalera-Garcia, Ruri Escalera, Quang Pham, Bernardino Gamillo, Roberto Trevino, Justin Garcias-Salas, Jamie Graham, Martin Arizmendi-Moreno and Ignacio Gomez-Rodriguez. It is important to note that five of the defendants charged in the second indictment were also charged in the third indictment.
The highest charge each defendant (with the exception of the last defendant listed) faces is knowingly and intentionally conspiring with each other to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine (actual) and 500 grams or more of a mixture containing methamphetamine. If convicted, each defendant, except the last one listed, faces not less than 10 years, and not more than life in federal prison, as well as a fine of up to $4 million.
The U.S. Marshals Service and the Greeley Police Department provided assistance with arresting some of the defendants. Further, the Arapahoe County Social Services and the Adams County Social Services are also assisting with the takedowns. In addition to the arrests, agents and officers executed a number of search warrants. Those arrested were transported to U.S. District Court in Denver where they each made their initial appearance. The defendants who did not appear in court Thursday will be taken to court Friday.
Each indictment also contains 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 such property, including but not limited to a money judgment in the amount of proceeds involved in the offense.
In addition, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Greeley Police Department provided assistance with arresting some of the defendants. Further, the Arapahoe County Social Services and the Adams County Social Services are also assisting with the takedowns.
The "Pig Pen" case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Knox; the "Xterra Range" cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kasandra Carleton.
The charges contained in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.