“Operation Chokehold” Results in Western Slope Cocaine Distribution Operation Dismantled

DENVER (LAWFUEL) – Nine members of a Montrose cocaine distribution organization have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver, Acting U.S. Attorney David Gaouette and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Sweetin announced. The investigation, called “Operation Chokehold,” is the result of a 6 month investigation. This organization, which was dismantled by authorities, is associated with the Sinaloa Cartel.

Three of the nine defendants are considered fugitives from justice. The other six are scheduled to appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Grand Junction today. All nine are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine. According to the DEA, each kilo is worth approximately $30,000.

The indictment, returned by the grand jury on February 24, 2009, charges:

Cornelio Cuevas-Pena (aka Rogelio), age 42, a resident of Mexico, fugitive

Luis Javier Carlos-Marin (aka Guero), age 47, of Delta, in custody

Abraham Cuevas-Pena, age 52, of Delta, in custody

Gabino Flores-Hernandez, age 61, of Olathe, in custody

Martin Andrade-Zuniga, age 41, of a resident of Mexico, fugitive

Adrian David Guerra, age 36, of Olathe, fugitive

Juan Carlos Denicolas, age 33, of Montrose, in custody

Oscar Ceja-Meraz, age 31, of Silt, in custody

Omar Garcia-Lopez (aka Liborio), age 32, of El Paso, Texas, in custody

“Illegal drug distribution is a problem we must tackle in all parts of our state,” said Acting U.S. Attorney David Gaouette. “Some major drug dealers have been removed from the streets of Montrose,” Gaouette said.

“The mission of the DEA is to investigate major drug trafficking organizations,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Sweetin. “DEA will continue to do just that – protect our citizens from those who would profit from the sale of illegal drugs in our communities, like Montrose, Colorado.”

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force, the 7th Judicial District Attorney, the Montrose Police Department, the Western Colorado Drug Task Force, the Montrose Sheriff’s Office, the Delta Sheriff’s Office, and the San Miguel Sheriff’s Office.

Count one, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, and count two, possession with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, each carry a penalty of not less than 10 years, and up to life in federal prison, as well as not more than a $4,000,000 fine. Three of the defendants, Carols-Marin, Cuevas-Pena, and Garcia-Lopez, also face asset forfeiture, where upon conviction the defendants shall forfeit proceeds obtained as a result of the drug trafficking offense, including but not limited to $12,340 in U.S. currency.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Wyatt Angelo.

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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