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Press Release

Two Denver Area Gang Members Receive Prison Sentences for Firearm and Drug Crimes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado
The two cases are unrelated -- but demonstrate the lengthy prison sentences being handed down to dangerous individuals with weapons

DENVER – Two individuals who are self-proclaimed gang members have been sentenced by federal judges to lengthy prison sentences for gun and drug crimes, U.S. Attorney John Walsh and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Ken Croke announced.  The defendants, whose cases are unrelated, Jonathan Fricks, age 35, and Jesse Garis, age 32, both of Metro Denver, were prior felons caught with guns and drugs, as well as drug distribution paraphernalia.

Defendant Jesse Dale Garis was sentenced to 120 months (10 years) in federal prison, followed by 3 years on supervised release by U.S. District Court Judge John L. Kane.  Garis was indicted by a federal grand jury on February 25, 2014.  He pled guilty before Judge Kane to possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime on June 15, 2015.  He was sentenced on September 10, 2015.

According to court documents, including the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, on January 30, 2014, Garis was arrested by the Aurora Police Department for possession of a weapon by a previous offender.  Garis was a suspect in the theft of a police computer taken from inside a marked police car while parked at an automobile dealership for service.  Police located the defendant inside his vehicle outside his residence as he was observed doing a narcotic transaction involving the sale of methamphetamine.  When police officers contacted Garis, he had a SKS rifle in his immediate possession, located along his leg of the driver’s seat.  Garis was placed under arrest.  In addition to the SKS, officers located a rifle magazine that contained 25 rounds of 7.62 ammunition.  They also found 7.36 grams of methamphetamine.  The defendant was a self-admitted member of the 211 Crew/Aryan Empire prison gang, and was on federal probation for a conviction for previously possessing a firearm by a convicted felon.  He had three additional felony convictions in the state of Colorado.  The SKS Garis possessed was to further his drug trafficking.

Defendant Jonathan Thomas Fricks was sentenced to 170 months (just over 14 years) in federal prison followed by 4 years on supervised release by U.S. District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello. Fricks was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on December 16, 2014.  He pled guilty to possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime on June 8, 2015.  Fricks was sentenced by Judge Arguello on September 22, 2015.

According to court documents, including the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, between August 15, 2014, the defendant and a woman were observed driving from a Denver motel to a fast food restaurant and then to a grocery store in Edgewater.  The defendant, who was in the passenger seat when the car was being driven, was arrested in the grocery store by a Community Parole Officer.  Upon his arrest, officers found $3,755 in cash in the defendant’s pants pocket.  Officers then searched the car the defendant rode in.  They noticed an unzipped black and white bag with a loaded magazine to a firearm showing in the butt of a gun.  Upon discovering the firearm, the Community Parole Officer called the ATF for assistance.  A full search of the car by ATF agents revealed a 9mm pistol loaded and chambered with seventeen rounds; a second magazine containing five rounds of ammunition; three baggies containing 47 grams of methamphetamine, a small digital scale with meth reside, a large digital scale with met reside, and an obscene photograph showing the defendant’s private part with the firearm in view.  The defendant knowingly possessed 47 grams of 95 percent pure methamphetamine.  He carried the 9mm pistol in furtherance of his drug trafficking crime.  It was determined that Fricks was a documented member of the Oldies 13 Gang and has “Oldies 13” tattooed on his back.

“Local law enforcement, ATF and federal prosecutors have again teamed up to send gang members with guns and drugs to federal prison,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh.  “By focusing on those who traffic drugs while carrying a firearm with lengthy criminal histories, we are focusing on removing those who cause the most harm from our streets.”

“These sentencings, along with others, demonstrate the commitment of law enforcement in Colorado to investigate and prosecute violent criminals and keep them in prison for as long as possible,” said ATF Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Ken Croke.

The Garis case was investigated by the Aurora Police Department.  The Fricks case was investigated by the Denver Police Department.  The ATF was involved in both investigations.

Garis was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Sibert.  Fricks was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter McNeilly.

Updated October 23, 2015

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