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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
July 20, 2005
Contact: Lynn Kimbrough, 720-913-9025

Drug 'Money Trail' Leads to Colorado
30 Charged With Bringing Cocaine to Area as a
Result of Global DEA Initiative

JUL 20-- (Denver, CO)- Jeffrey D. Sweetin, Special Agent in Charge, Rocky Mountain Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bill Leone, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, James W. Billings, Pueblo Police Chief, and Luis Velez, Colorado Springs Police Chief, announced today the District of Colorado has charged 30 defendants with cocaine trafficking stemming from Operation Denali, a two-year investigation.

Operation Denali , which began in August 2003, is one of the first successes as part of the DEA’s global campaign to follow the proceeds of drug dealers.

According to DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy, the Money Trail Initiative is a series of operations aimed at striking drug traffickers where it hurts the most – in their pocketbooks.

“While money is the main motivation for drug traffickers, it is also their number one vulnerability,” said Tandy. “In this initiative, we followed the money trail from several cash seizures in the U.S. around the Western Hemisphere, and it led us to identifying and indicting two drug trafficking brothers, one whom is most wanted drug traffickers list. It also enabled us to dismantle a major Mexican money transporter, and to take apart a violent marijuana organization in Detroit. That’s the kind of damage we will continue to inflict by attacking the drug trade at its financial core.”

Locally, Operation Denali has resulted in the seizure of 176 kilograms of cocaine, over 8 pounds of methamphetamine, 294 pounds of marijuana, $2,784,785 in cash, and two vehicles

“We can not dismantle the complete drug trafficking organization until we identify and seize the organizations only motivator, the money. In order to do so, we must look to the higher echelon of the organization, the CEO’s. They operate under the false belief that they are insulated from prosecution because they don’t get their hands tainted with the drugs or the violence. But, they most certainly touch the money. DEA’s “Money Trail Initiative” addresses this fact,”said DEA Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Sweetin.

To date, the Rocky Mountain Division of the DEA has arrested 16defendants out of the 30 charged in the District of Colorado.

" The cooperative effort between the DEA and Southern Colorado law enforcement continues to benefit the area's residents," said Leone. "Thanks to the hard work of local law enforcement and the DEA more cocaine has been removed from the streets of Southern Colorado. This effort also stopped large amounts of cocaine from traveling north and east to other states."

“The involvement of Pueblo PD officers in the DEA drug task force is paying huge dividends for the City of Pueblo. We are eliminating a major drug trafficking organization within our own city, while also taking down major players on the national and international level,” said Pueblo Police Chief Jim Billings.

Colorado Springs Police Chief Luis Velez stated, “We are not an isolated community. We feel the repercussions of drug crime in our homes, schools, and workplace. By partnering with law enforcement agencies like the DEA drug task force we are able to combat drugs in our own backyard and worldwide.”
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