DENVER — A Colorado operation resulted in convictions of 17 defendants for conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine, possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine, distribution of heroin and cocaine, money laundering, or using phones to facilitate felonies. In addition, the operation seized an estimated 12 kilos of heroin, two kilos of cocaine, four guns and $190,000 in cash.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado on Wednesday announced the successful completion of this Colorado law enforcement operation. This case was investigated by the Front Range Task Force, which is comprised of agents and officers from the following agencies: Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service, Denver Police Department, Colorado Bureau of Investigation; and the sheriff’s offices of Arapahoe and Douglas counties.
Twenty-three individuals were indicted on June 23, 2016, for a variety of criminal charges linked to the “Castores” group, which was comprised mostly of individuals from Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico. Between January 2010 and March 2015, this group transported heroin and cocaine from Arizona to Denver, Colorado, where they stored it in stash houses. Members then coordinated heroin and cocaine deliveries to about 20 street-level distributors in the Denver area. The organization’s “dispatcher” coordinated the runners and the street-level distributors each day, making sure the street-level distributors were ready to open the door for the runners as soon as the runners arrived. The day before the deliveries, the dispatcher sent requests for daily orders to the street-level distributors and made sure the runners knew what the street-level dealers wanted in terms of drug type (heroin or cocaine), quantity and quality.
In order to facilitate the drug distribution, members used telephones to set the time, location, quantity and price for the drug sales. The dispatcher frequently changed phones to avoid detection by law enforcement. Additionally, members used commercial wire transfer services to conceal and disguise the source, ownership, control and location of the proceeds being sent to the suppliers in Sinaloa, Mexico. The members used false “sender” names and addresses to conceal the true ownership of the wires when they were sent.
Of the 23 defendants named in the fourth superseding indictment, 10 were sentenced as follows:
- Paul Rubio-Sepulveda, aka Pelon – 235 months’ imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release;
- Juan Miguel Espinoza-Romero, aka Macizo – 144 months’ imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release;
- Yonger Ricardo Matute-Venegas, aka Yonger Venegas – 84 months’ imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release;
- Jose Cruz-Cruz, aka Jefferson – 78 months’ imprisonment, followed by four years of supervised release;
- Natasha Santistevan – 36 months’ imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release;
- Luis Cruz-Medina, aka Carlos Medina, aka Marlon Arturo Velasquez-Medina aka Chucky – 40 months’ imprisonment;
- Jose Nemecia-Garcia, aka Jose Luis Galeas-Almendarez – time served, which was 33 months’ imprisonment;
- Ema Belinda Bustamante-Raudales, aka Yeime Belinda Saensz aka Jaime – time served, which was 39 months’ imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release;
- Aaron Flores-Villegas, aka Missael Valdez-Osorino – 70 months’ imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release; and,
- Jose Lopez-Robles, aka Javier Sanchez Vega, aka Popote – 96 months’ imprisonment, followed by four years of supervised release.
In addition, Marco Castro-Cruz was also named as a defendant in the fourth superseding indictment. Along with defendants Kyle Adams and Reynieri Centeno-Velasquez, Castro-Cruz was separately indicted in the District of Wyoming for distribution of heroin resulting in death. Those charges stem from a heroin transaction in Denver that led to an overdose death in Laramie, Wyoming. After pleading guilty in both cases, Castro-Cruz was sentenced to 240 months’ imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release. Kyle Adams and Centeno-Velasquez were separately sentenced to five- and six-year terms of imprisonment (respectively), followed by three-year terms of supervised release.
Four other named defendants received felony convictions, and seven defendants remain fugitives. This case is captioned U.S. v. Aguilar-Cruz, et al., Case No. 14-cr-00144-CMA.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Guy Till, Barbara Skalla, and Laura Hurd represented the United States. The District of Wyoming indictment was investigated by the Laramie Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Guy Till and Brad Giles also worked on that prosecution.