GOLDEN, Colo. - Local, state and federal officials say they have dismantled an interstate drug-smuggling ring that was funneling cocaine into Colorado from California, and methamphetamine into the state from Arizona.
A Jefferson County Grand Jury handed down indictments against 16 people late last month. Ten of them have been arrested.
At least one of the suspects is also being linked to a cockfighting operation.
According to Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey, the investigation began in May 2012. That's when investigators learned that suspected drug dealers were selling cocaine in Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Edgewater, Aurora and Denver.
Thirteen men and three women were indicted Nov. 30 on charges of violating Colorado’s Organized Crime Control Act, distribution of a controlled substance, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and money laundering.
Ten of the sixteen people were arrested Dec. 6, Storey said.
- Christine Meza
- Fernando Saenz
- Jade Anton Visser
- Luz Beltran Gonzalez
- Miriam Hernandez-Casquera
- Paul Meza
- Sheri Morales-Munoz
- Abraham Almanzar-Morfin
- Antonio Morales
Suspects Still At-Large:
- Jesse Rubio
- Homero Reynosa-Cardenas
- Manuel Carrola-Hernandez
- Oswaldo Rodriguez-Sanchez
- Francisco Leon
- Francisco Barrigan
At a news conference Monday afternoon, Storey, U.S. DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Barbra M. Roach and Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink released photographs of some of the seized contraband. Among them: several bags of meth coated with red transmission fluid.
“We seized 12 pounds of meth that was in an SUV,” Roach said. “It was secreted inside a four-wheel-drive transfer case.”
Roach said another photograph showed a bag of money hidden under a headlight. Another showed cocaine hidden in an air-bag compartment.
“These show the extreme measures that drug traffickers will take to hide their criminal activities,” she said.
The meth is valued at between $150,000 and $200,000, while the cocaine has an estimated street value of $96,000.
Storey said six other people remain at large.
The district attorney said that when the investigation began, investigators learned that that one or more of the suspects may have been involved with cockfighting. While executing a search warrant at 6347 W. Mississippi Ave. in Lakewood, authorities found 70 roosters, a "training" ring and items that are believed to be accessories for cockfighting, like razors and eye protection.
"They were confiscated," Storey said.
Neighbors were surprised to hear about the allegations.
“I heard roosters crowing a lot,” said neighbor Ken Johnson. “I've only lived here for a year, so I just thought that was part of the neighborhood.”
When told that investigators believe the roosters were being used in cock fights, Johnson said, “I can’t believe they do that in this day and age.”
Johnson said the allegations of drug smuggling and cock fighting are upsetting.
"You expect that you're living in a really good neighborhood and that people around you are just normal, every day people like yourself," he said. "And to hear that stuff like that is going on is more than a little disconcerting."
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the six people still at-large is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.