Largest Drug Bust in Colorado History
FEB 10 - (Denver) – Special agents, police officers and deputy sheriffs this morning arrested 80 people on drug and/or gun charges, the United States Attorney’s Office announced.
The arrests were made by over 500 agents and officers, making this the largest drug bust in Denver history.
The arrests, announced today at a press conference in Aurora, were made after separate investigations were conducted by the Metro Gang Task Force; the Denver Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Strike Force; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and the North Metro Task Force. The combination of these four separate but related investigations resulted in today’s mass arrests. A total of 97 defendants have been charged in either federal or state court as a part of this operation.
During the course of the investigation, including today’s operation, agents and officers seized 12 weapons, including an SKS assault rifle, and AR-15 assault rifle, and handguns, $415,140 in cash, 26,129 grams of cocaine, 1,000 grams of crack, 1 pound of methamphetamine.
The defendants arrested by the Metro Gang Task Force, DEA, FBI, the Denver OCDETF Strike Force, and the ICE HSI were the result of seven separate indictments obtained by a federal grand jury in Denver. Many made court appearances this afternoon in two separate courtrooms, where they were advised of the charges pending against them, and the related penalties. The federal defendants will have detention hearings and will be arraigned next week. The defendants arrested by the North Metro Task Force are being prosecuted by the 17 th Judicial District Attorney Don Quick.
In addition to the subjects targeted for arrest today, 25 gang members and associates have been charged for their role in 16 violent take-over bank robberies. In December of 2009, the FBI’s Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force began investigating the first of these 16 robberies that occurred in the Denver metro area. Intelligence developed by investigators was shared with members of the MGTF, Aurora Police Department, and Denver Police Department. That information was used by the MGTF to initiate its enterprise investigation, leading to some of the indictments being announced today. Of the 25 gang members and associates identified, 23 have been convicted for bank robbery, 19 pursuant to federal charges and four in state court.
"Today's joint effort, involving hundreds of law enforcement officers across our city, has resulted in the organizational disruption of a major cocaine trafficking network operating between Tijuana, Los Angeles, and Denver," said Special Agent in Charge Barbra M. Roach, of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Denver Field Division. "Through the collective investigations of the Denver OCDETF (Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force) Strike Force, and those of our law enforcement partners, we have brought to justice the high level criminal bosses, money launderers, and drug dealers who were profiting from the most vulnerable in our communities across the Denver Metro area."
“This combined enforcement action to take down four separate but related investigations demonstrates the coordinated strength and professionalism of federal, state and local law enforcement working together in Metro Denver,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “These results could not have been done without the hundreds of members of our law enforcement family. Today our streets are safer, and the drug trade in Colorado has suffered a massive blow." If convicted, a vast majority of the federally charged defendants face not less than 10 years, and up to life in federal prison, as well as a fine of not more than $10,000,000.
The defendants in the North Metro Task Force case face either class two or three felonies, with many of the drug distributions relying on the weight of the drugs distributed. Depending on the weight these charges carry mandatory minimum prison sentences.
The Metro Gang Task Force is comprised of the FBI, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, the Aurora Police Department, the Colorado National Guard, the Colorado State Patrol, the Commerce City Police Department, the Denver District Attorney’s Office, the Denver Police Department, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, ICE/HSI, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Rocky Mountain HIDTA, the Thornton Police Department, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
The Denver OCDETF Strike Force includes the DEA, FBI, ICE/HSI, IRS-CI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Marshals Service. The DEA Los Angeles Field Division, and the multi-agency Special Operations Division (SOD), and attorneys from the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and the Office of International Affairs assisted in the Denver OCDETF Strike Force investigation.
The North Metro Task Force is comprised of law enforcement officers from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, the Thornton Police Department, the Westminster Police Department, the Commerce City Police Department, the Northglenn Police Department, and the Federal Heights Police Department.
The indictments are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.