Murder for Hire Convictions Lead to
Lengthy Prison Sentences
A Pontiac man was sentenced to life in prison today for his role in a 2010 murder-for-hire plot that began in Pontiac, Michigan, and ended with a violent shooting death in Littleton, Colorado, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.
Joining McQuade in the announcement was Special Agent in Charge Robert Corso, Drug Enforcement Administration, Detroit Division.
U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman also imposed sentences of 40 years and 32 years on two other defendants in the case today.
Enrique Amaya, 31, was found guilty at a jury trial in June of Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce to Commit Murder, Aiding and Abetting in the Use of a Firearm Causing Death, and Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute over Five Kilograms of Cocaine. The court sentenced Amaya to life imprisonment.
Two co-conspirators, Franklin Sierra-Rodriguez, 30, of Pontiac, and Jesus Daniel Medina-Meraz, 33, of Sheridan, Colorado, both pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce to Commit Murder on April 19, 2012. Sierra-Rodriguez was sentenced to 40 years' imprisonment, and Medina-Meraz to 32 years' imprisonment.
The charges stemmed from the night of June 1, 2010, when a lone gunman walked into an apartment complex in Littleton, Colorado, and killed Joaquin Lucero-Carrillo on his doorstep in front of several witnesses. Littleton Police detectives followed investigatory leads back to the Detroit area, where the Detroit Drug Enforcement Administration was already conducting an investigation into the narcotic distribution activity of Enrique Amaya. The two law enforcement agencies worked together to identify suspects and piece together evidence that revealed that Amaya and Medina-Meraz had hired Sierra-Rodriguez to murder Lucero-Carrillo in an attempt to erase a $400,000 debt they owed to their cocaine suppliers.
Three other defendants have also pleaded guilty for their roles in the criminal enterprise in this case and await sentencing:
* Jose Alejandro Villalon-Espinoza, 24, of Pontiac, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce to Commit Murder. He will be sentenced on October 30, 2012.
* Rafael Maravillas, 27, of Pontiac, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute 5 Kilograms or More of Cocaine. He will be sentenced on October 30, 2012.
* Franklin Baquedano, 25, of Waterford, pleaded guilty to Aiding and Abetting a Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine. He will be sentenced on December 12, 2012.
Evidence at trial showed that Amaya received multi-kilogram quantity shipments of cocaine from the Denver area to Pontiac where Amaya would sell the cocaine. When Amaya fell into debt to his suppliers, including the murder victim, he hired Sierra-Rodriguez to murder him. Amaya, along with several other co-defendants, arranged for the gunman's transportation and other details involved in the murder-for-hire plot.
"This case demonstrates the violence that accompanies large-scale narcotics trafficking," McQuade said. "Dismantling these large drug organizations with lengthy prison sentences is essential to protecting the safety of our communities."
This case was investigated by the Detroit DEA and the Littleton, Colorado Police Department. Detective Kenneth Hicks was the lead investigator from the Littleton Police Department. Officers of the Houston, Texas Police Department also reacted quickly in assisting in the arrest of Sierra-Rodriguez in Houston the day after the murder.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Graveline and Mark Chasteen.