Operation GhostRider Nets 28 Arrests, Gang Targeted
MAY 14 -- (PUEBLO, CO) Jeffrey D. Sweetin, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Rocky Mountain Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bill Thiebaut, District Attorney for the Tenth Judicial District, Pueblo, Colorado, and James W. Billings, Jr., Chief of Police, Pueblo, Colorado, announced today the arrest of 28 people in Pueblo and Denver on state drug and weapons charges related to cocaine and methamphetamine trafficking. Operation GhostRider was a nine-month investigation into the Pueblo drug trafficking activities of members and associates of the ‘Kelly Park Crips’ and other gangs and drug trafficking organizations in the area.
According to SAC Sweetin, DEA agents and the Pueblo Police Department seized more that 5 kilos of cocaine, 235 grams of crack cocaine and 346 grams of methamphetamine during the investigation. Also seized were four vehicles valued at $35,000, eight weapons of various calibers and types, and a bulletproof vest. Operation GhostRider was initiated based on a request by the Pueblo Police Department for manpower assistance from DEA’s Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) program.
“Law abiding citizens of communities like Pueblo should not have to tolerate the violent actions of organized criminal gangs,” said SAC Sweetin. “DEA responded to a request for assistance from Pueblo and I think it is safe to say that both parties are extremely pleased with the results.”
The investigation initially targeted the cocaine and methamphetamine trafficking activities of James Bachicha, 26, of Pueblo, and members of his organization, who were not only distributing drugs there, but were raiding the homes of their customers as well. According to investigators, the defendants would conduct armed home invasions to steal the drugs they had just dealt to their customers and other drug dealers. Agents and officers were later able to identify and arrest Bachicha’s sources of supply, Mark A. Virgil, 26, and Joe Duran, 29, both of Denver. Bachicha, Virgil and Duran were indicted by a Pueblo Grand Jury and charged under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA). Also indicted and arrested under COCCA were Michael Arrellano, 28, and Carlos J. Barrett, 27, both of Pueblo. Violation of COCCA is a class 2 felony, carrying penalties of 8 to 24 years imprisonment and fines upon conviction.
MET was created by the DEA in early 1995 as a response to the overwhelming problem of drug-related violent crime that plagues neighborhoods and communities throughout the United States. The MET program was designed to assist local law enforcement entities attack the violent drug organizations in their neighborhoods and restore a safer environment for the residents of these communities.
Today’s announcement highlights cooperative efforts among the DEA, the Pueblo Police Department and the District Attorneys Office to uncover and stop violent drug and gang activity. “Thanks to the hard work of the DEA, the Pueblo Police and District Attorney prosecutors and investigators, we have uncovered and hopefully removed a costly and violent drug enterprise affecting our community,” District Attorney Thiebaut said.
Chief Billings expressed his appreciation to the DEA and the District Attorney’s Office for their partnership with the Pueblo Police Department in Operation GhostRider. Chief Billings stated, “The DEA’s response to our plea for help was outstanding! Through their MET deployment the DEA invested a tremendous amount of resources in our community to help us deal with these violent drug traffickers who exploited and terrorized our citizens. Without the DEA’s help we could never have achieved the level of success we experienced in this operation. The District Attorney’s Office also played a critical role throughout the operation and will play an even greater role as we move into the prosecution phase.” Chief Billings had high praise for the officers involved, stating, “The DEA agents and the undercover police officers worked long, hard hours in extremely dangerous conditions and Pueblo owes them a debt a gratitude for the sacrifices they made and the risks they took to accomplish their mission! Kudos to them for a job well done!”
Victor Baca, 25, Pueblo, CO
Agents and officers continue to pursue investigative leads relative to this investigation. Criminal charges have been filed against the following persons, who are considered to be fugitives. The public is requested to provide any information concerning their location to the Pueblo Police Department by calling 719-240-2332.
Joseph Riojas Carrillo, 25, Pueblo, CO
The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. For additional information, please contact the Rocky Mountain Field Division Public Information Officer at 303-705-7446.