Pueblo Police Department and Southern Colorado Safe Streets Task Force Announce the Arrest of Five Individuals and the Seizure of Historic Amounts of Heroin in Southern Colorado
The seizures follow a year and a half investigation into heroin trafficking in Pueblo and Southern Colorado
DENVER – The Pueblo Police Department, the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the FBI Denver Division, all parts of the Southern Colorado Safe Streets Task Force, announced the seizure of historic amounts of heroin from two residences and a business located in Pueblo, Colorado. Following the seizure, the U.S. Attorney’s Office obtained grand jury indictments charging five individuals with distribution of drug charges. Four of the five defendants were also charged with federal firearms violations. All five defendants are in federal custody with charges pending and have made initial appearances.
The criminal investigation began in Pueblo in December 2016, when the Southern Colorado Safe Streets Task Force began investigating criminal activity associated with several street gangs operating in the Pueblo area. As a part of that investigation federal agents and state and local law enforcement, including the Pueblo Police Department, executed search warrants on three locations. Two were residences in Pueblo, with the third a Pueblo business called “Get Your Fix Automotive”. Seized from the three locations were approximately:
- 28 kilograms of heroin
- 2.5 pounds of methamphetamine
- 50 grams of cocaine
- 35 firearms, including several stolen weapons, and a machine gun
- $540,000 in cash
Those indicted include:
- Daniel Vasquez, of Pueblo, charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute heroin and Felon in Possession of a firearm.
- Roger Bujanda, of Pueblo, charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute heroin and Felon in Possession of a firearm.
- Jesus Mercado Valdez, of Pueblo, charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute heroin and Felon in Possession of a firearm.
- Gage Rael, of Pueblo, charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute heroin and Felon in Possession of a firearm.
- Leonard Aragon, of Pueblo, charged with two counts of Possession with Intent to Distribute heroin.
The heroin alone is worth approximately $8,000,000. If cut for sale, it could provide up to 40,000 user doses. One house alone yielded over $300,000 in cash and a substantial amount of the heroin seized, in addition to the many assault weapons hidden throughout. The heroin was distributed on the streets of Pueblo, as opposed to being stored for distribution in other cities.
Sentences regarding heroin distribution depend on the weight of the drugs seized or trafficked. Possession with Intent to Distribute a kilogram or more of heroin carries a penalty of not less than 10 years, and not more than life in federal prison, as well as a fine of up to $250,000. Possession with intent to distribute a lower amount of heroin carries a penalty of not less than 5 years, and up to 40 years in prison. Also, being a felon in possession of a firearm carries a penalty of not more than 10 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine.
“This series of cases reflects forensic partnership policing at its best,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. “Dangerous individuals and their poison and weaponry are now gone. With minimal disruption, Pueblo is a safer place.”
“Solid relationships between law enforcement and prosecutorial offices at all levels, Federal, State and Local, creates an effective tool for dealing with violent crime,” said Pueblo Police Chief Troy Davenport. “FBI Safe Streets is a great example of those relationships and the kind of effort that our citizens deserve. Our community is much safer today because of this relationship and cooperative effort. The Pueblo Police Department is a proud participant.”
"The outcome of this case is indicative of the success that can be attained when agencies combine resources to dismantle drug trafficking organizations," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers. "Crimes of this nature destroy our neighborhoods and the futures of our children. We are confident this case will send a message to those contemplating trafficking heroin and other dangerous illegal narcotics they will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and prosecutors to attack the heroin epidemic and remove violent criminals from our neighborhoods."
These prosecutions were coordinated with Jeff Chostner and the 10th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. This investigation was handled by the Pueblo Police Department, as part of the FBI Southern Colorado Safe Streets Task Force, which includes the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, the Canon City Police Department, the Fountain Police Department, the Colorado Springs Police Department, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, the state Department of Corrections Office of Inspector General, the state Department of Corrections Office of Parole, the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Department of Homeland Security (HSI), the IRS CI, and Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
The defendants are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Gibson.
The charges are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty