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Justice News

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

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Drug Trafficking Organizer Sentenced To Prison As Part Of A Multi Defendant Drug Investigation and Prosecution

Defendant Jose Tapia-Rubio and sixteen others were charged in a drug ring alleging they brought cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico which then travelled through California to Metro Denver where it was sold to drug users

DENVER – Jose Tapia-Rubio, age 60, of Aurora, Colorado, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge Raymond P. Moore to serve 96 months (8 years) in federal prison followed by 5 years on supervised release for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, and conspiracy to conduct an unlawful financial transaction, U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn, DEA Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Tim McDermott and IRS CI Special Agent in Charge Steven Osborne announced.  Tapia-Rubio appeared at the hearing in custody and was remanded at its conclusion.

Tapia-Rubio is one of 17 defendants charged in this large scale prosecution of a drug trafficking organization (DTO).  These individuals were charged by indictment on April 13, 2017.  A superseding indictment was obtained on July 11, 2017.  Tapia-Rubio pled guilty on June 25, 2018.  He was sentenced on March 5, 2019.  The other defendants include:

  • Rodrigo Mora-Sanchez – sentenced to 138 months in prison followed by 5 years on Supervised Release
  • Lara Zamora-Cruz -- sentenced to 72 months in prison followed by 5 years on Supervised Release
  • Selestino Hernandez-Mayo – sentenced to 60 months in prison followed by 2 years on Supervised Release
  • Eduardo Jimenez-Sanchez – sentenced to 60 months in prison followed by 4 years on Supervised Release
  • Heberto Mora-Sanchez – sentenced to 60 months in prison followed by 4 years on Supervised Release
  • Jose Chica-Orellana – sentenced to 55 months in prison followed by 5 years on Supervised Release
  • Oscar Mora-Campos – sentenced to 40 months in prison followed by 5 years on Supervised Release

In addition, several other defendants have cases that remain pending.

According to court documents and evidence presented in court, between February 2016 and May 2017, the Drug Enforcement Administration Strike Force and the Aurora Police Department conducted an investigation into a drug trafficking organization (DTO).  Tapia-Rubio and his co-conspirators played significant roles within that DTO.  The investigation revealed that the DTO imported multi-kilogram/multi-pound quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico to California.  The drugs were then transported to Colorado and then sold to customers in the Denver metro area, as well as customers located in Breckenridge, Aspen and New Castle.  The DTO received, off-loaded, stored and sold drugs at El Rancho Market located in Aurora.  That business was owned by Tapia-Rubio.  The DTO maintained a stash house in Aurora as well.

During the course of the investigation law enforcement seized: 1) 12.5 kilograms of cocaine and 1.2 pounds of methamphetamine; 2) approximately $692,000 in bulk cash drug proceeds; 3) two homes valued at approximately $615,600; 4) three vehicles valued at approximately $28,650; and 5) eleven firearms. 

“Targeting drug traffickers and focusing on the top of their organizations is an important role for the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn said.  “Thanks go to the agents from the DEA, IRS CI and the Aurora Police Department who worked tirelessly on this case.”

“This investigation targeted a significant cocaine and methamphetamine drug trafficking organization based in Aurora, Colorado and the Denver metropolitan area,” said DEA Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Tim McDermott.  “This provides another prime example of the commitment of the DEA, working with our state, local, and federal partners, to dismantle and remove drug trafficking organizations in order to protect our communities.”   

Steven Osborne, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation stated, “This is an important victory for the American public.  Not only is a criminal going to jail for his crimes, but the government has seized a significant amount of illegal proceeds through asset forfeiture.  The role of IRS CI in narcotics investigations is to follow the money so we can financially disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations.  IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to provide its financial expertise as we work alongside our law enforcement partners to bring criminals to justice.”

This case was investigated by the DEA, IRS CI and the Aurora Police Department.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Podolak, Zachary Phillips and Tonya Andrews.

Drug Trafficking
Jeff Dorschner Spokesman, Public Affairs Officer U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado 303-454-0243 direct; 303-454-0400 fax
Press Release Number: 
CASE NUMBER: 17-cr-00116
Updated March 6, 2019