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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Colorado

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 23, 2021

Denver Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Role in Drug Conspiracy

DENVER – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announces that Omar Rivas-Saenz, age 31, of Denver, was sentenced to 176 months in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, fentanyl, and heroin.

According to the plea agreement and court filings, from May 2019 until September 2019, Rivas-Saenz worked for a drug trafficking organization that engaged in the interstate transportation and local distribution of large quantities of illegal drugs sourced from Mexico.  On May 16, 2019, state authorities arrested the defendant after finding him with roughly seven pounds of methamphetamine, as well as over $6,000 in cash.  State authorities found several firearms in his house, including one with a defaced serial number, as well as $3,000 in cash, 67 grams of heroin, and 400 fentanyl pills. 

The defendant failed to appear for scheduled state court hearings and, six days after his arrest, he delivered a pound of 98% pure methamphetamine to a confidential informant.  He then assisted in the coordination of the distribution of 10 pounds of methamphetamine and participated in the redistribution of 46 and 50-pound loads of methamphetamine 

On September 12, 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials attempted to arrest the defendant on a federal warrant.  The defendant’s vehicle collided with police vehicles and the defendant fled on foot, leading officers on a chase through a residential area until he was finally taken into custody.

“Armed drug dealers who run from law enforcement create a particularly dangerous threat to the safety of our communities,” said United States Attorney Cole Finegan.  “Our office is working with law enforcement partners to make Colorado a safer place by prosecuting these dangerous criminals.”

“Through the collaboration on the Denver Strike Force, the FBI and our federal, state, and local partners dismantle transnational criminal enterprises involved in drug trafficking and money laundering within our communities,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider. “The tireless efforts of law enforcement and the sentence given to Omar Rivas-Saenz reflect the determination with which we are combating and deterring the distribution of illegal narcotics, and it also ensures that Rivas-Saenz no longer poses a threat to our community.”

“This is someone that posed a blatant threat through his membership in a transnational crime organization,” said Ryan Spradlin, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Denver. “HSI will continue to work with all of our law enforcement partners to prevent criminals and the organizations they represent from flooding our communities with illicit narcotics and weapons.”

“As a result of the concerted effort of the law enforcement community and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, this defendant was successfully brought to justice,” said DEA Denver Acting Special Agent in Charge David Olesky.  “Methamphetamine, fentanyl, and heroin continue to pose a public health threat to our community, and the results of this investigation demonstrate that the DEA, in collaboration with all of our partners, will continue to pursue those individuals most responsible for trafficking these dangerous drugs which have contributed to the current national overdose epidemic across our country.”

“This sentencing emphasizes IRS-Criminal Investigation’s determination, in partnership with our fellow law enforcement agencies, to aggressively pursue those who attempt to distribute drugs in Colorado,” said Andy Tsui, IRS-CI Denver Field Office Special Agent in Charge.  “We will continue to be relentless in our mission to dismantle drug trafficking organizations and bring the criminals who participate in them to justice.”

United States District Court Judge Raymond Moore sentenced Rivas-Saenz on December 17, 2021.

Agents and deputies assigned to the Strike Force from the FBI, ICE ERO, HSI, IRS-CI, and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation and were assisted by officers and deputies from the Colorado State Patrol and the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office.  The Denver Police Department conducted the initial arrest of the defendant, and the Drug Enforcement Administration aided in the defendant’s apprehension on federal charges.  Assistant United States Attorneys Cyrus Chung and Kelly Churnet handled the prosecution of the case.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation.  OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

Case number:  20-cr-0028-RM-16

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Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated December 23, 2021