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Drug rings busted

NICOLE FORMOSAsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Kristin Skvorc
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SUMMIT COUNTY Federal drug agents and local police arrested 34 people and seized more than 1,600 grams of drugs during a four-month undercover investigation, ultimately breaking up five drug trafficking rings in one of the largest drug busts ever in the county.This is hugely successful, said Jeffrey Sweetin, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agencys Rocky Mountain Field Division, at a press conference Tuesday at the Justice Center in Breckenridge. This community will have phenomenal benefit from today. … Even if the only good that came out of this was the drug traffickers still out there are afraid to sell to anybody, fine well take it.Between January and May, undercover agents and police officers purchased 1,174 grams of cocaine, 227.6 grams of methamphetamine and 262.29 grams of marijuana through a criminal organization that used juveniles for distribution of drugs, according to a press release from the DEA.This is just what we purchased. This doesnt take into consideration what everybody else was purchasing from these individuals, or potentially from other individuals in the county, said Undersheriff Derek Woodman, who also heads up the Summit County Drug Task Force.By the end of the investigation, police had also confiscated nearly $14,000 in cash, 17 vehicles and two handguns, one of which was stolen.The DEA Mobile Enforcement Team spearheaded the investigation after local police departments submitted a request to the federal agency last year to help combat drug trafficking in the county.Although Summit County has a drug task force, its resources are restricted to two full-time agents, making it tough to put a significant dent in the problem, Woodman said.The eight-person Mobile Enforcement Team set up an undercover office in Summit County in January, and began identifying suspects with daily assistance from the local drug task force, said DEA agent Mike Santavicca.Search warrants were executed at residences at 220 La Bonte in Dillon, 401 W. 4th St. in Silverthorne, 1213 Straight Creek Drive in Dillon Valley, 592 Vail Circle in Summit Cove and 847 Airport Road in Breckenridge. Three people were arrested in January, one in February, one in March, nine in April and 13 in May. Seventeen of the defendants have been charged in Summit County with anywhere from 13 to 17 felony counts, most of which are possession of a controlled substance, distribution of a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit possession and distribution of a controlled substance, said Fifth Judicial District Attorney Mark Hurlbert.The remaining defendants will be charged in Jefferson County because the ring extended into the Front Range, Woodman said.Four of the defendants Luis Lima-Ortiz, Michael Osorio-Montenegro, Ivan Hernandez-Hernandez and Gustavo Corrasco-Torres have been identified as alleged ringleaders of the organizations. Hurlbert said his office intends to take a hard line while prosecuting each person, particularly the alleged kingpins.They will not only be looking at prison, but we will be if we gain a conviction we will be looking at significant prison time, Hurlbert said. Only two of the defendants being charged in Summit County have bonded out of jail, Woodman said.Many of the defendants have immigration holds against them as well because of their illegal status in the country, Woodman said.

One of the men, alleged ringleader Gustavo Corrasco-Torres, had been deported from Summit County twice over the past three years after assault arrests, but was back in the county in the same location, driving the same car at the time of his April 29 arrest, agent Santavicca said.Special agent Sweetin said that a trend is surfacing in the west in which drug trafficking organizations are specifically targeting certain types of communities such as resort communities like Summit County to sell drugs, as opposed to running business out of their hometowns.Their assumption is that the relative lack of law enforcement resources will prohibit them, or keep them safe, when they conduct illegal business, Sweetin said.But, the willingness of police departments in Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco, Silverthorne and the Summit County Sheriffs Office to collectively make the decision to contact the DEA helped overcome limited resources to fight the drug problem in Summit County, Sweetin said.According to Woodman, this bust was one of the largest in Summit Countys history. In the early 1990s, a similar operation was conducted, also with the help of the DEA, but only 15 arrests were made then.Preliminary hearings begin June 12 for defendants in Summit County.

The bust was spearheaded by the DEA Mobile Enforcement Team in cooperation with all the local law enforcement agencies and the Summit County Drug Task Force.

The Mobile Enforcement Team is an eight-person team that responds to requests for assistance from local departments to dismantle criminal organizations.During the course of the investigation, search warrants were executed in Dillon, Summit Cove, Dillon Valley, Silverthorne and Breckenridge.

The defendants are: Timothy Smith, 25, of Copper Mountain, Keith Plunket, 38, of Breckenridge, Russell Arias-Canche, 21, of Silverthorne, Bernardo Cajero-Olivarez, 24, of Keystone, Seth Gates, 34, of Silverthorne, Cuauhtemoc Dias-Rivas, 24, of Breckenridge, Michael Osorio-Montenegro, 18, of Silverthorne, Roy Garcia, 20, of Lakewood, Eduardo Uriel Lopez-Garcia, 21, of Silverthorne, Bentura Andrade-Estrada, 27, of Silverthorne, Humbert Fierro-Chaco Jr. , 28, of Silverthorne, Juan Manuel Tinoco, 31, of Silverthorne, Gustavo A. Carrasco-Torres, 25, of Breckenridge, Antonio Vasquez-Pascual, 29, of Breckenridge, Miguel Angel Martinez, 22, of Silverthorne, Javiar Lopez-Avalos, 24, of Dillon, Carlos Morales-Terrazas, 27, of Dillon, Rafael Ruiz-Garay, 40, of Dillon, Ivan Ricardo Ruvalcaba-Martinez, 19, of Dillon, Jose Daniel Salazar, 24, of Dillon, Ruben Martinez-Salas, 33, of Dillon, Jose Dejesus Martinez-Salas, 36, of Dillon, Adrian Salcido-Chavira, 24, of Dillon, Miguel Trinidad Gutierrez-Jasso, 29, of Dillon, Jose Omar Bujanda-Saenz, 23, of Dillon, Luis Edgar Lima-Ortiz, 26, of Dillon, and Jose Cruz Higuera-Mendez, 21, of Dillon.Two juveniles also face charges.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13625, or at nformosa@summitdaily.com.


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