News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2008
Contact: DEA Salt Lake City
SA Mike Turner
303-705-7446

Operation Escorpian Part II
18 Arrested, Half Kilo of Coke Seized

OCT 10 -- Durango – Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Rocky Mountain Division Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Jeffrey D. Sweetin, Sixth Judicial District of Colorado District Attorney Craig Westberg, and La Plata County Sheriff Duke Schirard, announced today the culmination of part II of Operation Escorpian. Operation Escorpian targeted a drug trafficking operation (DTO) importing methamphetamine and cocaine into the United States to consumers in Southwest Colorado.

On October 7 and October 8, 2008, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Southwest Drug Task Force (SWDTF) and other law enforcement officers served 18 arrest warrants and 6 search warrants in L Plata, San Juan and San Miguel Counties in Colorado and in the states of Arizona and New Mexico. As of today, 18 people are in custody on Colorado State drug charges and a ½ kilogram of cocaine, $3,000 and 1 vehicle has been seized.
SAC Sweetin stated that, “No matter how a drug trafficking organization adapts to escape the notice of law enforcement, they can never match the drive and determination of the men and women in law enforcement who seek to rid their communities of drugs.  This investigation is a firm reminder to drug traffickers that Southwest Colorado is no place to peddle their poison. "
Operation Escorpian was initiated in May 2006 and has come full circle with the arrests and seizures executed this week. The methamphetamine arm of the DTO took significant losses last year with the arrest of 23 DTO members, including DTO leaders based in Southwest Colorado. With the enforcement activity this week, a total of 41 DTO members have been arrested and 6 pounds of methamphetamine, 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, $97,000, and 6 weapons have been seized.

The Southwest Colorado cell head of the DTO, Elvis Garcia-Camacho, was arrested in Arizona with the assistance of the Peoria (Arizona) Police Department’s Special Investigative Unit earlyTuesday morning. Investigators have shown that Garcia-Camacho recruited and relocated DTO members from larger cities in the Southwest United States to Durango to sell cocaine. Garcia-Camacho recognized an opportunity for the DTO to expand cocaine trafficking in Durango and ingeniously managed his distribution hub in Durango, providing a steady supply of cocaine from Arizona to Durango.

La Plata County Sheriff Duke Schirard stated, “This investigation exemplifies the importance of the Southwest Drug Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s operations in this area. The alleged conspirators in this case, including several suspected illegal aliens, were making large amounts of money while poisoning our citizens.”

The success of this operation is due to the combined efforts of the SWDTF, DEA Offices in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, the Region II Drug Task Force (Farmington Police epartment, San Juan County (New Mexico) Sheriff’s Office and Bloomfield Police epartment), the San Juan County (Colorado) Sheriff’s Office, the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the Telluride Marshal Department and the Durango Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE).

San Juan County Sheriff Sue Kurtz stated that, “I commend the Southwest Drug Task Force fortheir work on this case. Their assistance to the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office and the cooperation between the agencies makes it possible to fully investigate drug crimes in our small community where resources are limited. The people that are selling and transporting drugs don't stop at the county line or even state line, as this case shows. The task force is a huge resource for the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office to develop cases and then bring them to successful prosecution.”

The SWDTF is composed of agents from DEA, investigators from the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, Ignacio Police Department, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation

DTO members are being prosecuted by the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The charges range from Colorado state violations for distribution of cocaine to criminal solicitation. The names of those who have been arrested and charges are as follows:

1. Elvis GARCIA-Camacho, 31 years old, Durango, Colorado. Arrested for felony distribution of cocaine, conspiracy, criminal solicitation and money laundering.
2. Amy RODRIGUEZ, 28 years old, Durango, Colorado. Arrested for felony distribution of cocaine, money laundering conspiracy and criminal solicitation.
3. Rafael AGUILAR, 24 years old, Durango, Colorado. Arrested for felony distribution of cocaine, and conspiracy.
4. Ivan Alonso ESTRADA-Mendoza, 23 years old, Durango, Colorado. Arrested for felony distribution of cocaine, money laundering, conspiracy and criminal solicitation.
5. Cesar MIRANDA, 23 years old, Durango, Colorado. Arrested for felony distribution of cocaine, conspiracy and money laundering.
6. Hereclio RUBIO Sesme, 32 years old, Aztec, New Mexico. Arrested for Immigration violations.
7. Luis PRIETO-Leal, 30 years old, Silverton, Colorado. Arrested for conspiracy and criminal solicitation.
8. Josue SUASTO-Ojeda, 32 years old, Durango, Colorado. Arrested for criminal solicitation.
9. Mechelle FASENMYER, 20 years old, Durango, Colorado. Arrested for criminal solicitation.
10. Jaime AGUILAR-Leon, 19 years old, Durango, Colorado. Arrested for criminal solicitation.
11. John COTTRELL, 20 years old, Durango, Colorado. Arrested for criminal solicitation.
12. Carol BLOHM, 43 years old, Durango, Colorado. Arrested for criminal solicitation.
13. Vincent STOUT, 44 years old, Durango, Colorado. Arrested for criminal solicitation.
14. Steven FLYNN, 46 years old, Durango, Colorado. Arrested for conspiracy and criminal solicitation.
15. Robert DRIVER, 40 years old, Durango, Colorado. Arrested for criminal solicitation.
16. Damon LUCERO, 19 years old, Ignacio, Colorado. Arrested for criminal solicitation.
17. Jose Manuel LOERA-Moran, 23 years old, Durango, Colorado. Arrested for felony distribution of cocaine. 18. Miguel FLORES-Ponse, 23 years old, Telluride, Colorado. Arrested for conspiracy and criminal solicitation.

The charges are only allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty. For more information please contact Southwest Drug Task Force Commander Lt. Pat Downs at (970) 759-5552 or DEA Resident Agent in Charge Karen Flowers at (970) 683-3249.

Mug shots can be obtained by contacting La Plata County Jail at (970) 247-1161.

USDOJ.GOV Privacy Policy