October 14, 2005
Contact: Special Agent Randy Ladd
Phone Number: (720-895-4294)
DRUG INVESTIGATION PAYS OFF
1.5 Million in illegal drug assets given to investigating agencies
OCT 14--Denver- Today, Jeffrey D. Sweetin, Special Agent in Charge of the Denver Field Division, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced the distribution of approximately $1.5 million of asset sharing checks to 14 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The sharing checks are a result of the culmination of Operation Choque, an international drug investigation led by the DEA Colorado Springs Resident Office. Operation Choque began in November 2002 and culminated in October 2004. Two years of diligence, dedication, and hard work gleaned approximately $11.3 million in U.S. currency and other assets, 2,300 kilograms of cocaine, and 60 arrests nationwide.
In the District of Colorado, 29 individuals have been indicted for their participation in Operation Choque. All 29 have been charged with cocaine importation, distribution, conspiracy, and money laundering. This organization imported up to 600 kilograms of cocaine per week into the United States and transported millions of U.S. dollars in drug proceeds from the United States back to Mexico.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey D. Sweetin stated that, “We know that drugs move down in an organization and money flows upward. In order to identify the entire organizational structure, we follow the money up the organizational ladder to the leaders or CEO’s. Once we achieve this goal, we can dismantle an entire drug trafficking organization from top to bottom. Law enforcement agencies, who understand this goal, rid their communities of drugs and violence and help take down an international drug trafficking organization. As a side benefit of their “big picture” thinking, they can receive a share of the assets seized in the investigation.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey D. Sweeten presented asset sharing checks to the following agencies:
Colorado Springs Police Department $ 484,980.46 and $ 209,401.47*
Pueblo Police Department $ 387,984.36 and $ 209,401.47*
Colorado Bureau of Investigation $ 96,996.09 and $ 34,900.25*
Colorado State Patrol $ 96,996.09 and $ 34,900.25*
Denver Police Department $ 96,996.09
Weld County Drug Task Force $ 96,996.09
Internal Revenue Service $ 38,798.44
Bridgeville Police Department (Illinois) $ 19,399.22
Cook County Sheriff’s Department (Illinois) $ 19,399.22
Will County Police Team (Illinois) $ 19,399.22
Waukeena Police Department (Illinois) $ 19,399.22
Justice Department of Police (Illinois) $ 19,399.22
Palos Park Police Department (Illinois) $ 19,399.22
Oak Lawn Police Department (Illinois) $ 19,399.22
*Asset sharing checks previously rewarded.
An additional seizure total of $1.65 million has been forfeited pursuant to Operation Choque and is awaiting final Department of Justice approval. When the funds are released by the Department of Justice, additional checks will be given to the above listed departments.
For further information, please contact Denver Field Division Public Information Officer Special Agent Karen Flowers at (303) 705-7351.
-Fact Sheet outlining Operation Choque and Operation Choque photographs are available-