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Justice News

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Multiple Defendants Sentenced for Participating in Large Scale Heroin and Cocaine Ring

DENVER – The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announces the successful completion of a Colorado law enforcement operation, resulting in convictions of 17 defendants for conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine, possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine, distribution of heroin and cocaine, money laundering, or using phones to facilitate felonies.  In addition, the operation seized an estimated 12 kilos of heroin, 2 kilos of cocaine, 4 guns and $190,000 in cash.

Twenty-three individuals were indicted on June 23, 2016, for a variety of criminal charges linked to the “Castores” group, which was comprised mostly of individuals from Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico.  Between approximately January 2010 and March 2015, this group transported heroin and cocaine from Arizona to Denver, Colorado, where they stored it in stash houses.  Members then coordinated heroin and cocaine deliveries to approximately 20 street-level distributors in the Denver area.  The organization’s “dispatcher” coordinated the runners and the street-level distributors each day, making sure the street-level distributors were ready to open the door for the runners as soon as the runners arrived.  The day before the deliveries, the dispatcher would send requests for daily orders to the street-level distributors and make sure the runners knew what the street-level dealers wanted in terms of drug type (heroin or cocaine), quantity, and quality.

In order to facilitate the drug distribution, members used telephones to set the time, location, quantity, and price for the drug sales.  The dispatcher frequently changed phones to avoid detection by law enforcement.  Additionally, members used commercial wire transfer services to conceal and disguise the source, ownership, control, and location of the proceeds being sent to the suppliers in Sinaloa, Mexico.  The members used false “sender” names and addresses to conceal the true ownership of the wires when they were sent. 

Of the 23 defendants named in the fourth superseding indictment, 10 were sentenced as follows:   

  • Paul Rubio-Sepulveda aka Pelon – 235 months imprisonment, followed by 5 years supervised release;
  • Juan Miguel Espinoza-Romero aka Macizo – 144 months imprisonment, followed by 5 years supervised release;
  • Yonger Ricardo Matute-Venegas aka Yonger Venegas – 84 months imprisonment, followed by 5 years supervised release;
  • Jose Cruz-Cruz aka Jefferson – 78 months imprisonment, followed by 4 years supervised release;
  • Natasha Santistevan – 36 months imprisonment, followed by 2 years supervised release;
  • Luis Cruz-Medina aka Carlos Medina aka Marlon Arturo Velasquez-Medina aka Chucky – 40 months imprisonment;
  • Jose Nemecia-Garcia aka Jose Luis Galeas-Almendarez – time served, which was 33 months imprisonment;
  • Ema Belinda Bustamante-Raudales aka Yeime Belinda Saensz aka Jaime – time served, which was 39 months imprisonment, followed by 2 years supervised release;
  • Aaron Flores-Villegas aka Missael Valdez-Osorino – 70 months imprisonment, followed by 5 years supervised release; and,
  • Jose Lopez-Robles aka Javier Sanchez Vega aka Popote – 96 months imprisonment, followed by 4 years supervised release.

In addition, Marco Castro-Cruz was also named as a defendant in the Fourth Superseding Indictment.  Along with defendants Kyle Adams and Reynieri Centeno-Velasquez, he was separately indicted in the District of Wyoming for Distribution of Heroin Resulting in Death.  Those charges stem from a heroin transaction in Denver, Colorado, that led to an overdose death in Laramie, Wyoming.  After pleading guilty in both cases, Castro-Cruz was sentenced to 240 months imprisonment, followed by 5 years of supervised release.  Kyle Adams and Centeno-Velasquez were separately sentenced to 5 and 6 year terms of imprisonment (respectively), followed by three year terms of supervised release.

Four other named defendants received felony convictions and seven defendants remain fugitives.  The case is captioned U.S. v. Aguilar-Cruz, et al., Case No. 14-cr-00144-CMA.

This case was investigated by the Front Range Task Force, which is comprised of agents and officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, United States Marshals Service, Denver Police Department, Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorneys Guy Till, Barbara Skalla, and Laura Hurd represented the United States.  The District of Wyoming indictment was investigated by the Laramie Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Assistant United States Attorneys Guy Till and Brad Giles also worked on that prosecution.


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Drug Trafficking
Updated March 14, 2018