The Drug Enforcement Administration, Colorado Attorney General’s Office and the West Metro Drug Task Force dismantle international cocaine trafficking ring
Operation White Whale has resulted in the seizure of 134 kilograms of cocaine and over $1.2 million
DENVER— The Drug Enforcement Administration, in partnership with the Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman, today announced the dismantling of an international cocaine trafficking organization headed by two Colorado residents. Operation White Whale launched in April 2017, and has resulted in 16 indictments, and the seizure of 134 kilograms of cocaine with a street value over $5.3 million, and $1.2 million in U.S. currency.
“Cocaine use is making a comeback across the nation” stated William T. McDermott, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Denver Field Division. “This investigation is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when DEA offices across the nation, agents stationed abroad, and our state and local counterparts, work together to dismantle a substantial cocaine supply network.”
The DEA Denver Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Strike Force headed the law enforcement investigation in partnership with the West Metro Drug Task Force. Sixteen individuals have been charged with participating in an international drug trafficking network that transported cocaine from Mexico into the United States to a distribution network in Atlanta, GA. This investigation included the interception of 18 target telephones, and was investigated jointly with the DEA Atlanta Field Division - HIDTA Group 4, the DEA Charleston SC Resident Office, the DEA Juarez Mexico Resident Office, and the DEA Beijing, China Country Office.
According to the indictment, the organization was led by two Colorado residents who coordinated with an associate in Atlanta, GA, to distribute multiple kilos of cocaine on a monthly basis and to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug proceeds. Through the use of court-authorized wiretap intercepts, investigators discovered that the head of this group, working from his residence in Greeley, Colorado, arranged to import large quantities of cocaine from various sources from the Republic of Mexico into the U.S. At times, the group utilized semi-trailer trucks from a Colorado-based trucking company to transport the cocaine throughout the southern U.S. The group also used a variety of methods —including concealing bank currency in load vehicles and utilizing wire remittances — to transfer the earned drug proceeds back to the sources of supply in Mexico. The drug trafficking organization also utilized money laundering operations run by Chinese Nationals to launder the proceeds through Chinese banks and back to Mexico.
On Aug. 13, 2018, a Colorado State grand jury returned an indictment charging 16 defendants with 9 total counts including violations of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, and money laundering. On Aug. 15, 2018, the Denver Strike Force Group, with critical assistance from the Denver Special Response Team, DEA Atlanta, DEA St Louis, and the DEA Boise Resident Office, executed a multi-jurisdictional takedown that resulted in the execution of multiple search warrants and the successful arrest of eight of the indicted members of the target organization.
The DEA Strike Force investigation included agents and officers from DEA, the Denver Police Department, the West Metro Drug Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, US Marshall’s Office, Colorado State Patrol, Aurora Police Department, and the Northern Colorado Drug Task Force.
"This case is the result of a collaborative effort at all levels of law enforcement across the country and internationally,” said Attorney General Coffman. “I am grateful to all our partners for their hard work. My office remains committed to protecting public safety and fighting against anyone who tries to bring poison into our communities and sell it to our citizens.”
The filing of criminal charges or an indictment is merely a formal accusation that an individual committed a crime. Each defendant should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The criminal matters have been venued in Weld County and will be prosecuted by the AG’s office in partnership with the 19th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.