Nine Drug Traffickers in Mckinley County
OCT 20 -- On October 18, 2010, nine McKinley County residents were arrested on federal drug trafficking charges as a result of a five-month Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) investigation code-named “Operation Yé’iitsoh.”
The investigation leading to the arrests began in May 2010 at the request of the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety (NNDPS) and for the purpose of combating the growing drug trafficking problem in and around the Navajo Reservation. The Operation was brought as part of the Native American Project (NAP) Initiative, which is supported by the DEA’s Albuquerque District Office in partnership with the BIA and the NNDPS.
The defendants, who generally are charged with unlawfully trafficking in methamphetamine and marijuana in three separate cases, are scheduled to appear before United States Magistrate Judge W. Daniel Schneider in Albuquerque later today. The indictment filed in United States v. Jaramillo, et al. , Criminal No. 10-2835, charges six of the defendants: Jason Jaramillo , 32, of Grants, NM; Lance Rochlitz , 28, of Grants, NM; Michael Goodson , 46, of Prewitt, NM; Georgia Goodson , 35, of Prewitt, NM; Gilbert Aragon , 33, of Grants, NM; and Matthew Gonzales , 40, of Grants, NM. The indictment filed in United States v. Chato, et al. , Criminal No. 10-2833, charges Dion Chato , 23, and Nephi Chato , 21, both residents of Tohatchi, NM; and the indictment filed in United States v. Patton , Criminal No. 10-2832, charges Melvin Patton , 37, of Crownpoint, NM. All three cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Samuel A. Hurtado.
Jaramillo Indictment – Summary of Charges
Counts 2, 3 & 5:
Counts 6 & 7:
Chato Indictment – Summary of Charges
Counts 2, 3 & 4:
Counts 5 & 6:
Patton Indictment – Summary of Charges
Unfortunately, no community is immune to the scourges of drug abuse and trafficking, particularly those associated with methamphetamine. The increasing drug problem in Indian Country contributes to the wide range of violent and property crime that plague our Native communities. I commend the agents and officers of the DEA, BIA and Navajo Nation for focusing on this particular problem and working together and with my Office in combating these problems and trying to make our Native communities safer for the families who live there.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit said:
DEA is committed to working with our law enforcement partners in the Indian Nations and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to target drug trafficking organizations responsible for the violence and social ills that plague our communities in the Southwest Border Region, including those on Native Lands. This investigation is an example of the success we can have when we combine our expertise and resources toward the common goal of making our communities safer places to live.
Yé’iitsoh, or Big Giant, is a character in a Navajo legend that explains why lava can be found at Mt. Taylor, the stratovolcano in northwest New Mexico located northeast of Grants which is called Tsoodzil , the turquoise mountain, and considered sacred by the Navajo people and other Native Americans in New Mexico. Operation Yé’iitsoh was designated as a Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF is a nationwide program that combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated attack against drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The NAP Initiative, which sponsored Operation Yé’iitsoh, is funded by the HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking
Area) program and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Allegations in indictments are merely accusations. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.