Five Aspen area residents in their 60s, and one in her 40s, were arrested Thursday as part of a drug sweep by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
The four men and two women were taken to the Garfield County Jail, although the exact charges against them are unclear.
The U.S Attorney's Office identified the six Aspen suspects as Joan Susan Anastasi, 66; Joseph James Burke, 63; Jack Lee Fellner, 61; Christopher James Sheehan, 65; Wayne Alan Reid, 65; and Peggy Schlaugher, 41. They made their first appearance in federal court in Denver Friday afternoon.
Reid was arrested by the Mesa County sheriff's deputies on cocaine distribution charges.
He was pulled over on Interstate 70 near the Rabbit Valley Exit for speeding, according to an arrest affidavit.
After he was stopped, deputies noticed that his driver's license had a special provision that he could only drive with a breath-alcohol interlock device, which the rental car did not have.
Reid "appeared extremely nervous" when deputies questioned him, according to the affidavit. Deputies searched the vehicle and found a brick of cocaine weighing more than 1 kilogram, the affidavit said.
The case in Mesa County against Reid is pending. The primary charge against him is distribution of 1,000 or more grams of cocaine, a Class 3 felony.
Four suspects from Los Angeles were also indicted -- the oldest being 70 years old.
Only Jesse Trujillo, 33, of Los Angeles, is listed as a fugitive. All other suspects are in custody.
During the course of a one-year investigation, those named in the indictment allegedly distributed more than 5 kilograms of cocaine in the Aspen area. The investigation has revealed that the organization has transported and distributed over 200 kilograms of cocaine into Aspen over the past 15 years.
The DEA also confiscated a large amount of cash during the drug sweep.
If convicted of the maximum penalty, each defendant faces not less than 10 years and up to life in federal prison, as well as a $10 million fine.
Thanks to the hard work of the Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team (TRIDENT), Aspen cocaine dealers have been arrested, significantly reducing the supply of cocaine in that community, said U.S. Attorney John Walsh, in a prepared statement.
This operation dealt a significant blow to a major drug trafficking organization with potential ties to the violent cartels that have murdered thousands in Mexico, said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin Merrill. These arrests make Aspen and its surrounding communities safer by taking significant amounts of drugs off the street and putting violent criminals behind bars. DEA and its partners will continue to attack those drug pushers who threaten our neighborhoods and streets.
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