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News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mike Turner
Special Agent
Number: 303-705-7446
October 25, 2006

DEA: Drug Traffickers used Elmo Dolls to Conceal Meth
45 pounds of “Ice” Seized in Greeley, Colorado-based Operation

photo of press conference
SAC Sweetin displays a replica of an Elmo doll used to conceal 4 pounds of ICE meth. Behind SAC Sweetin from left to right is Greeley PD Chief Jerry Garner, Weld County Sheriff John Cooke and United States Attorney for the District of Colorado Troy A. Eid.

DENVER – Jeffrey D. Sweetin, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Rocky Mountain Field Division, Troy A. Eid, United States Attorney for the District of Colorado, John Cooke, Weld County Sheriff, and Jerry Garner, Chief of the Greeley Police Department; announced that a large methamphetamine distribution organization based in Greeley, Colorado, has been dismantled by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Weld County Drug Task Force. The investigation, which began in September 2005, has resulted in the seizure of a total of over 45 pounds of high quality ICE methamphetamine, 1.1 kilos of cocaine, and $59,000 in cash. The organization used buses and cars to transport the high quality meth from California to Colorado.

“This organization has been determined to be responsible for making massive amounts of methamphetamine available to our citizens in North Colorado and surrounding states,” said DEA SAC Sweetin . “The fact that the drug was of such high purity, the documented ties to gang activity in the Greeley area, and the quantities of the methamphetamine being sold reflects just how dangerous this organization was. I am happy to report that it will be significantly more difficult finding meth in Greeley today now that this organization is out of business.”

photo of tire with methamphetamine
4.4 pounds of methamphetamine seized at Grand Junction, CO.
 
photo of seized methamphetamine
5 pounds of methamphetamine seized at Grand Junction, CO.
 
photo of seized drugs
8 pounds of methamphetamine seized at Grand Junction, CO.
 
photo of seized drugs
7 pounds of methamphetamine seized at Greeley, CO, on 10/23/06.
 
photo of seized drugs
Seized methamphetamine seized in suitcase by DEA.

On October 18, 2006, a federal grand jury in Denver returned an indictment charging twenty-one individuals with various drug trafficking crimes, including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute methamphetamine. DEA Agents and Weld County Drug Task Force officers arrested 10 people Monday afternoon or Tuesday based on the indictment. In addition, 9 people were already in custody on state charges, and 2 are fugitives. They also executed five search warrants at three residences, a business, and a storage unit in Greeley. As a result of the search warrants, agents and officers seized an additional 8 pounds of methamphetamine, $12,000 in cash, 4 weapons (one of which was stolen), a bullet proof vest and a set of night vision goggles.

The alleged leader of the organization, RIGOVERTO VALLE-SIERRA, was arrested without incident yesterday in Greeley.

The following people have been indicted, and are presently in custody:

RIGOVERTO VALLE-SIERRA
MARTIN GOMEZ-BERRERA
FERNANDO VALENZUELA-SOTO
HECTOR JESUS ZAMUDIO-TOLOZA
MICHAEL JAMES OVALLE
ISMAEL GARCIA
ELIZABETH MARCHAND
MONICA ESTRADA
AGUSTIN MAGANA-BERMEO
LARRY JOE HERNANDEZ
OMAR VALLE-SIERRA
DEBBIE LEE MADRID
CHRISTINA FERNANDEZ-MOLINA
ROBERT JOSE CERVANTES JR.
VINCE BENAVIDEZ
LUIS LUNA
ENEAS CAMACHO-DOMINGUEZ
JOSE ALFREDO SANCHEZ-GUSMAN
BOGAR GONZALEZ-ITUARET

The following people have been indicted, and are considered fugitives from justice:

JOSE QUINTANA
LETICIA MOCTEZUMA

“Drug traffickers prey on those who are vulnerable, and they do not hesitate to use any and all means necessary to ply their trade,” said United States Attorney Troy Eid. “They will use anything, including children’s toys, to hide their illegal drugs from authorities. Thanks to the outstanding work of the DEA and Weld County Drug Task Force, a large methamphetamine distribution organization has been removed from the community.”

photo of Elmo doll
Elmo doll which concealed 4 pounds of methamphetamine at Barstow, CA.
 
photo of Elmo doll
Elmo doll which concealed 4 pounds of methamphetamine at Barstow, CA.
 
photo of seized money
$25,590 cash seized at Evan, Colorado, by DEA.

Weld County Sheriff Cooke said, “This operation is another prime example of the accomplishment law enforcement can achieve when we all work together. There is no doubt that these arrests will put a dent in the distribution and supply of illegal drugs in Northern Colorado.”

Greeley Police Chief Garner said, “I believe this case provides a great example of what can happen when law enforcement agencies share information and resources. That always results in bad news for the bad guys, and that's what we're all in business for.”

If convicted, each defendant faces not less than 10 years, and up to life in federal prison, for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and distribute methamphetamine. The defendants also separately face various distribution of methamphetamine charges.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Weld County Drug Task Force, which includes the Greeley Police Department, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, and the Evans Police Department. The Front Range Task Force, US Postal Inspection Service, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Colorado National Guard assisted in the investigation, as did the Los Angeles Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Wayne Campbell and Mark Barrett.

These charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

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