News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 30, 2007
Contact: DEA Public Affairs
Number: 303-705-7446

Meth Ring Busted In Western Colorado  

MAY 30 -- Grand Junction – Jeffrey Sweetin, Special Agent in Charge of the Denver Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger and Ninth Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson announced the dismantlement of a methamphetamine drug trafficking organization (DTO) operating on the Western Slope of Colorado. The investigation, which was conducted by DEA’s Western Colorado Drug Task Force (WCDTF) and the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team (TRIDENT), resulted in the arrest of six individuals, the seizure of approximately four pounds of methamphetamine, approximately five ounces of cocaine and a small amount of crack cocaine.

This investigation began in July 2006 and utilized a myriad of techniques, to include undercover officers, confidential sources and surveillance to expose the methamphetamine DTO. The identified DTO was determined to be responsible for transporting high quality, multi-pound quantities of methamphetamine from the Roaring Fork Valley to Mesa County via Interstate 70. The seized methamphetamine had an average purity level of 76%. The DTO sold the methamphetamine in quantities ranging from ounces, priced at $800, to pound quantities, priced at $12,500.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey D. Sweetin stated, “Those arrested today are organized criminals who were profiting from dealing dangerous drugs to citizens of our communities on the western slope. DEA will continue to serve communities there and throughout Colorado by being relentless in our investigation of major trafficking organizations operating in our state.”

The Western Colorado Drug Task Force, the DEA Glenwood Springs office and the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team were the front line in this investigation. Due to both Task Forces’ commitment to enforcing drug laws and working together, this DTO has been exorcised from Mesa County and the Roaring Fork Valley .

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario is the board chairman of TRIDENT. Sheriff Vallario commented, “We are pleased that this drug trafficking organization has been removed from our community. Our citizens should feel confident in the fact that this case could not have been the success that it was if it were not for the excellent working relationship between TRIDENT, the WCDTF and the DEA. All of these agencies work together to insure that the safety of our communities is paramount.”

The following individuals were arrested and face drug charges in Mesa County :

  • Juan Carlos Gil, 29, Glenwood Springs , Colorado
  • Gerardo Salcedo Gil, 24, Glenwood Springs , Colorado
  • Jose Luis Perez-Preciado, 27, El Jebel , Colorado
  • Jose Manuel Oropeza-Padilla, 31, Glenwood Springs , Colorado

Juan Carlos Gil, Gerardo Salcedo Gil and Jose Luis Perez-Preciado are facing felony charges of Distribution of a Controlled Substance, Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance and Special Offender. Juan Carlos Gil, Gerardo Salcedo Gil and Jose Luis Perez-Preciado face potential penalties of a mandatory prison sentence of between 8 and 48 years with a mandatory 5 years of parole. Jose Manuel Oropeza-Padilla has been charged with Distribution of a Controlled Substance, more than a pound, but less than a kilogram and Child Abuse. Jose Manuel Oropeza-Padilla faces potential penalties of a prison sentence of between 10 and 32 years, plus 5 years mandatory parole.

The execution of arrest warrants resulted in the above arrests and consent searches conducted on May 30, 2007 resulted in two additional arrests. Cristobel Topete-Amaral, 20, Glenwood Springs, Colorado, was arrested for Possession of a Controlled Substance (cocaine), Possession with the Intent to Distribute (cocaine) and Child Abuse. Topete-Amaral is being prosecuted by the Ninth Judicial District and faces the possibility of between 4 and 16 years in prison for Possession with Intent to Distribute. Prudencio Martinez-Lopez, 24, Basalt, Colorado, was arrested for Possession of Crack Cocaine, approximately 5 grams, and faces a prison sentence of between 2 and 4 years. Prudencio Martinez-Lopez is being prosecuted by the Fifth Judicial District.

The Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office continues to provide key support and guidance to the successful conclusion of this investigation.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) provided invaluable assistance with the arrests and consent searches on May 30, 2007. ICE’s participation is greatly appreciated by the Western Colorado Drug Task Force and TRIDENT.

The following individuals were arrested by ICE and have been charged with Illegal Entry into the United States , which carries a prison term of up to 5 years and a $250,000 fine:

  • Joaquin Garcia-Martinez, Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  • Pascual Lopez-Lopez, Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  • Rigoberto Nuno, Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  • Elisonog Herrera Gonzalez Pedro-Elias, Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  • Jesus Sanchez-Tovar, Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  • Alonzo Valles-Rios, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Ages were not available at the time of release.

“ICE routinely works in partnership with DEA and many other law enforcement agencies to accomplish a common goal: to make communities safer by removing criminals from the streets,” said Jeffrey Copp, Special Agent in Charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Denver. “These law enforcement partnerships are continuing to thrive, making it harder for criminals to stay in business.”

TRIDENT is comprised of members of the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, the Glenwood Springs Police Department, the Rifle Police Department, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, the Carbondale Police Department and the Vail Police Department.

The Western Colorado Drug Task Force is comprised of DEA, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and the Grand Junction Police Department.

The charges are only allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty. For more information please contact the DEA Grand Junction Resident Office at (970) 683-3220.