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News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2006

DEA Makes Record Heroin Seizure
Seven Defendants Indicted In Largest Seizure In Recent Colorado History

AUG 22 -- DENVER, CO – Jeffrey D. Sweetin, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Rocky Mountain Division and Troy A. Eid, United States Attorney for the District of Colorado, announced that five (5) people have been arrested in Colorado today as part of a nationwide take down of a major black tar heroin distribution organization. Today’s arrests stem from an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Denver on August 7, 2006.

“This notorious Denver-based Mexican heroin trafficking organization was distributing high-purity Mexican heroin in the Denver community and to other U.S. cities,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Sweetin. “The simultaneous arrests across the U.S. will significantly impact the organization's ability to traffic heroin.”

During the course of the nine-month investigation, DEA agents and task force officers seized over seven pounds of heroin, as well as $26,473 in cash. During today’s early morning raids, agents and officers discovered an additional ½ pound of heroin, approximately $10,000 in cash, and two hand guns. The seven pound heroin seizure, which took place on July 31, 2006 in Adams County, is thought to be one of the largest in recent Colorado history.

The multi-state investigation, called “Operation Black Gold Rush,” included arrests in 14 U.S. cities and charges in eight federal judicial districts, along with state and local charges. More than 17 kilograms of black tar heroin – a potent form of heroin that is dark and sticky in appearance -- were also seized in the operation. In addition to Colorado, arrests occurred today in Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Arrested today based on the indictment were:

ULISES CASTRO-CARCIA
aka Carlos Stevens and Raul Madrigal

MARCO ANTONIO MEZA GARCIA
aka “Toro”

FERNANDO CAMACHO-ZUNIGA

Those who have yet been apprehended and are considered fugitives include:

ROSE GABIE HERNANDEZ
aka “Maria Hernandez”

MARLENE COSIO-ARENAS

RICARDO CHAVARIN-GARCIA

EDGAR ARTURO ESTRADA-LOPEZ

DEA agents and task force officers made three additional probable cause arrests.

The indictment charges all defendants with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance, which carries a penalty of not less than 10 years, and up to life in federal prison, as well as a $4,000,000 fine. Some of the defendants named in the indictment are also charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin, and knowingly using a communications facility (telephone) to facilitate heroin trafficking. Two defendants are also charged with knowingly traveling in interstate/foreign commerce with intent to promote a business enterprise involving the distribution of heroin.

“Targeting large scale drug traffickers is a top priority of the Department of Justice,” said Troy Eid, United States Attorney. “Enforcement actions, such as the one this morning, remove dangerous drugs from our streets, making our cities safer. I want to thank the DEA and the other state and local law enforcement agencies for their hard work in removing large amounts of heroin from our communities.”

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), with substantial assistance from the Federal Heights Police Department, the Arvada Police Department, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Westminster Police Department, and the South Metro Drug Task Force. The Denver Police Department, Northglenn Police Department, and the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) also provided assistance during the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jaime A. Pena.

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

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