News Release
March 04, 2010
Contact: Mike Turner
Number: 720-895-4214  

Mexico Extradites Oscar Arriola to Face Drug Trafficking Charges
in Colorado

MAR 04 -- DENVER -- Yesterday Mexico extradited drug kingpin Oscar Arriola to Colorado to face drug charges, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey D. Sweetin and U.S. Attorney David Gaouette announced.  Arriola was flown in a DEA plane from Mexico to El Paso, Texas, and from there to Denver, Colorado.  He is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Colorado at 2:00 p.m. today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig B. Shaffer. 

Oscar Arriola was indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Colorado on December 16, 2003.  On June 2, 2005, Oscar Arriola, his brother Miguel Arriola, and the Arriola organization were designated through the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, often referred to as the “Drug Kingpin Act.”  Oscar Arriola was arrested in Mexico on February 2, 2006, and has been in Mexican custody pending extradition to the U.S. ever since. Oscar Arriola’s brother, Miguel Arriola, was extradited from Mexico to the United States in January of 2007.  Miguel Arriola has previously pled guilty of drug trafficking crimes in Colorado, and awaits sentencing.

According to available court documents, the DEA Colorado Springs Resident Office initiated an investigation in June 2002 that eventually led to the identification of Oscar Arriola as the head of an international cocaine trafficking organization that smuggled and distributed more than two tons of cocaine per month in the United States.  In addition, the Arriola organization allegedly collected hundreds of millions of dollars in drug proceeds in the United States and transported the cash to Arriola and other leaders of the organization in Mexico.

The Colorado Springs investigation began with an anonymous telephone tip to a Pueblo, Colorado crime stoppers tip line regarding a ranch property in Peyton, Colorado (east of Colorado Springs) that was suspected of being used to store large shipments of cocaine.  During a lengthy investigation, agents determined that the Peyton ranch served as a cocaine storage and transportation center for the Arriola organization.

From 2002 through 2004, DEA offices in Colorado Springs, Denver, El Paso, Chicago, New York, Albuquerque, North Carolina, and Mexico coordinated investigative efforts against the Arriola organization.  Law enforcement officers in the U.S. and Mexico seized more than 5,000 pounds of cocaine, approximately $50,000,000 in cash and other assets, and arrested 60 key members of the Arriola organization in the U.S.

Agents obtained evidence indicating that the organization had extensive U.S. cocaine distribution networks in Texas, Colorado, Illinois, New York, Georgia, Missouri, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Maryland, Indiana, Michigan, Kansas, New Jersey, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.  The organization allegedly had dozens of drug and money transporters operating almost non-stop, delivering cocaine to the U.S., then collecting the drug proceeds and delivering them to the Arriola organization bosses in Mexico.  One money transporter stated that he alone had collected and transported $43,000,000 in a 12-month period.

Oscar Arriola faces one count of conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and one count of importation of cocaine, both of which carry penalties of not less than 10 years, and up to life in federal prison, and up to a $4,000,000 fine.  If convicted of the one count of money laundering conspiracy Arriola faces not more than 20 years imprisonment and/or a $500,000 fine.

“We deeply appreciate the cooperation we’ve received from Mexico in the extradition of Oscar Arriola to the United States to face this serious federal drug charge,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge in Denver Jeffrey D. Sweetin.  “According to the allegations, his organization’s drug trafficking in Mexico and the United States allowed him to amass incredible wealth, at the expense of the citizens of both countries.  He will now be held accountable in U.S. District Court in Colorado for those illegal activities.”

“Thanks to the extraordinary cooperation between our partners in Mexico, the Department of Justice in Washington, DEA field offices across the country, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado, a major drug kingpin has been extradited to Colorado to face charges of operating a massive drug distribution organization,” said U.S. Attorney David Gaouette.

The U.S. Marshals Service assisted in the extradition of Arriola.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance in this matter.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney M.J. Menendez.

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.