Trafficking Ring Dismantled by DEA
“To date this investigation has netted six arrests and the seizure of nearly one half kilogram of cocaine and approximately $64,000 in currency,” stated Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.
The DEA and TRIDENT task force identified Jose Jesus Sanchez-Ceja as the regional leader of a cocaine distribution network that supplied customers and other dealers operating primarily in Pitkin, Eagle, and Garfield counties. Sanchez-Ceja was arrested on Monday, September 25, 2006, for state charges of conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute, distribution of cocaine, and a special offender charge for a pattern of distribution. DEA and TRIDENT stated that Sanchez-Ceja sold cocaine from a car wash in Aspen, Colorado where he had worked for 13 years.
“On Monday afternoon we learned that Sanchez-Ceja was trying to leave town because he became aware that he was being watched by law enforcement,” stated Jeffrey Sweetin Special Agent in Charge for the DEA’s Denver Field Division. “He was within minutes from slipping out of town when investigators found him as he waited outside a residence for an associate to pick him up. Fortunately, we picked him up first,” Sweetin remarked.
Subsequent to Sanchez-Ceja’s arrest, investigators served a search warrant for the car wash where approximately two ounces of cocaine was seized. “Most of the cocaine transactions at the car wash were completed within minutes or even seconds. We observed that cars would arrive to the wash bays and sit without ever getting washed. For these “regular” customers cocaine or money could be transferred between supplier and customer with little more than a discreet handshake,” stated Sweetin.
Over three days, the DEA and TRIDENT served seven search warrants at locations belonging to members of the distribution network from Aspen to Silt. The search warrants included Sanchez-Ceja’s apartment in Eagle County where investigators seized approximately $31,000 in currency.
“Not only is this investigation significant because we’ve removed a major cocaine network residing in Pitkin, Eagle, and Garfield counties, but we’ve removed the multitude of other crimes committed by this organization. This organization didn’t restrict itself to cocaine as their sole commodity. Members of this group dispensed stolen property, negotiated for the acquisition of firearms, and committed various other crimes,” stated Sheriff Vallario. “We expect that additional arrests will be made.”
DEA and TRIDENT also arrested Juvenal Rascon (43), Ivan Dizan Rascon-Garcia (32), Robert Ward Thompson (45), Robert Alan Jackson (36), and Kristie Goodhard (48) on state drug related charges. During the execution of warrants, 36 individuals were identified and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as undocumented aliens.
“Law enforcement is at its best and most effective when agencies work together,” said Jeffrey Copp, Special Agent in Charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Denver. “ICE brings its unique customs and immigration law enforcement authorities to many different operations. The common goal of all law enforcement agencies is to help make communities safer.” Copp heads a four-state area including: Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
The DEA and TRIDENT task forces stated that the investigation was conducted with the cooperation of the High Impact Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), the District Attorney’s Office for the Ninth Judicial District, and ICE.
DEA and TRIDENT would like to acknowledge and thank the Aspen Police Department, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, and Eagle County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance.
The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty. For additional information, please contact Denver DEA Supervisory Special Agent Gray Hildreth at (303) 705-7335.