Colorado Attorney General, DEA task force dismantle major drug trafficking ring
The investigation, which launched in March 2019, uncovered a thriving market for illicit controlled substances, including heroin and counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports are the primary drivers of the recent increase in opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the last 20 years in Colorado, nearly 5,000 Coloradans died from a prescription opioid overdose. More than 900 of those deaths were due to synthetic opioids that included fentanyl. That number has risen sharply in recent years, from 49 deaths in 2016 to 220 in 2019, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The Denver DEA’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Strike Force directed the law enforcement investigation in partnership with the Arvada Police Department.
As a result of the investigation, 64 people were charged with participating in an international drug trafficking network that transported large quantities of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl from Mexico through U.S. ports of entry into Colorado in motor vehicles with concealed compartments.
The investigation also uncovered a money laundering operation that trafficked drug proceeds through a variety of wire transfers and bulk U.S. currency transports to Mexico. The team found these drug trafficking cells in the Denver metropolitan area, Colorado Springs, and Adams County.
The investigation has recovered: 77,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills (contain fentanyl), 250 pounds of methamphetamine, 60 pounds of heroin, 8 kilograms of cocaine, 12 firearms, 19 vehicles valued at $229,000 and $931,000 in U.S. currency.
From Oct. 22, 2019, to Feb. 11, 2021, the Colorado Statewide Grand Jury returned indictments for multiple violations of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act and the Colorado Controlled Substances Act. ■