News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: December 22, 2010
Contact: Mike Turner
Number: 720-895-4214

Four Illegal Aliens Arrested For Cocaine Distribution In Durango, Colorado

DEC 22 -- (Durango) – U.S. Attorney John Walsh and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin Merrill announced that four Durango area defendants were arrested for trafficking cocaine last month.  All four defendants were arrested without incident.  They each are being held in federal custody, without bond, pending a resolution of their cases.  This 10 -month investigation has resulted in the seizure of more than a kilogram of cocaine and approximately $25,000 in drug related assets.

Three of the four defendants were arrested on November 16, 2010, based on a Criminal Complaint, which is a probable cause charging document.  The three arrested on November 16, plus a fourth person, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on December 15, 2010.

Those arrested and indicted are:

        Rogelio Lariz-Luna, age 43, of Durango, Colorado

        Jose Mendoza-Lariz, age 18, of Phoenix, Arizona

        Irma Garcia, age 31, of Farmington, New Mexico

        Heraclio Rubio-Sesma, age 35, of Farmington, New Mexico

According to court documents, a joint investigation between the DEA and the Southwest Drug Task Force in Durango revealed a cocaine trafficking organization that was bringing significant quantities of cocaine from Arizona and New Mexico to Durango for distribution.  In addition to the four members charged federally, three other people were charged in state court by the Sixth Judicial District.

According to the federal indictment, on November 17, 2010, Lariz-Luna and Mendoza-Lariz knowingly distributed, and possessed with intent to distribute, 500 grams or more of cocaine.  On that same date, Lariz-Luna and Mendoza-Lariz attempted to distribute and attempted to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.  The indictment further alleges that the two, Lariz-Luna and Mendoza-Lariz, knowingly conspired with others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.

On August 6, 2010 through October 29, 2010, Lariz-Luna, Irma Garcia, and Rubio-Sesma knowingly distributed and possessed with intent to distribute cocaine.  On January 6, 2010, the same defendants knowingly conspired to distribute, and possessed with intent to distribute cocaine. 

Lastly, from May 14, 2010 through September 16, 2010, Rubio-Sesma allegedly unlawfully reentered the United States after deportation.  Rubio-Sesma had a previous conviction also for unlawful reentry. 

“Thanks to the persistence of the DEA and the Southwest Drug Task Force, major suppliers of cocaine have been arrested,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh.

“DEA and our law enforcement partners are working hard each day in the Four Corners region to protect those communities from becoming targets of drug trafficking organizations that attempt to operate there,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin Merrill.

The penalty for conspiracy to distribute/possession with intent to distribute, distribute/possession with intent to distribute, and attempt to distribute/possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, is not less than 5 years, and not more than 40 years imprisonment, and up to a $2,000,000 fine.  Distribution/possession with intent to distribute cocaine carries a penalty of not more than 20 years in federal prison, and up to a $1,000,000 fine. The penalty for unlawfully reentering the country after a prior felony conviction is not more than 10 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Southwest Drug Task Force in Durango, Colorado.

The defendants are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Norvell.

These charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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