DENVER – Members of the MS-13 street gang, their associates, and their sources of illegal drug supply were arrested early this morning based on two federal grand jury indictments, the Justice Department and the Metro Gang Task Force announced. The arrests were the culmination of a 3 year investigation into one of the most notorious street gangs in the country. The U.S. Attorney’s Office obtained the indictments charging a total of 20 defendants with various drug or firearm crimes. Of the 20 defendants, 8 were arrested this morning – many by SWAT teams from across Metro Denver. Four defendants are fugitives. Simultaneous arrests were also made in Los Angeles. The other 8 defendants were already in custody. In addition, 9 other defendants are being prosecuted in state court. The Adams County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting two defendants, the Denver District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting 1 defendant, and the Arapahoe County District Attorney is prosecuting 6 defendants. Also, the drug dealing allegedly reached all the way into a California state prison.
During the course of the investigation, agents and officers seized 10 pounds of methamphetamine, 2.3 kilograms of cocaine, 124 grams of heroin, 12 firearms, and $3,300 in cash.
According to the indictments, MS-13 gang members, led by Gerardo Lopez, aka Clever or G-Man, age 31, of Denver, and Jose Garcia-Sanchez, aka Catracho, age 26, of Aurora, both of whom are charged in separate indictments, conspired to distribute, and possessed with intent to distribute, quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. The conspiracy, and other related drug distribution charges, included the distribution of the illicit drugs on the streets of Metro Denver, as well as in a facility in California called the High Desert State Prison. Some of the defendants are also charged with illegal firearm possession.
Charged in the first indictment are:
Gerardo Lopez, aka Clever or G-Man, age 31, of Denver, arrested today in Colorado
Enrique Alejandro Lacallo, aka Pee-Wee, age 29, of Los Angeles, arrested today in Calif. Milton Garca-Espinoza, aka Pajaro, age 40, of Los Angeles, already in custody in Calif. Anthony Aldana, aka Trusty, age 27, of Denver, arrested today in Colorado David Guerra, aka Danger, age 35, of Denver, fugitive believed to be in Calif. Elio Yanes, aka Caballito, age 29, of Los Angeles, already in custody in Calif. Federico Amezquita, aka Perico, age 23, of Los Angeles, already in custody in Calif. Maria Aguilera, age 42, of Los Angeles, already in custody in Calif.
Charged in the second indictment are:
Jose Garcia-Sanchez, aka Catracho, age 26, of Aurora, already in custody in Colorado
Elizabeth Vega, age 30, of Aurora, arrested today in Colorado Anthony Rodriguez, aka Silenco, age 21, of Aurora, arrested today in Colorado German Martinez-Reyes, age 34, of Aurora, previously deported by ICE Francisco Ramirez-Soto, aka Tony, age 29, of Aurora, fugitive believed to be in Nevada Juan Serrano-Mendez, aka Snoopy, age 25, of Aurora, already in custody of ICE Kelvin Duran, aka Shy Boy, age 27, of Aurora, arrested today in Colorado Jaime Lopez, aka Jimmy, age 32, of Aurora, arrested today in Colorado Erick Medina-Cardona, aka Otto, age 21, of Aurora, arrested today in Colorado Carlos Ramos-Carrillo, aka Chapin, age 35, of Aurora, fugitive believed to be in Colorado Guillermo Hernandez, aka Memo, age 23, of Aurora, already in custody in Colorado Jose Ramirez-Lopez, aka Diablo, age 25, of
Aurora, fugitive believed to be in Colorado
“This is another tremendous example of the results that can be achieved when a multi-agency task force like the Metro Gang Task Force partners with both state and federal prosecutors to focus on criminal conduct that endangers our citizens,” said Acting U.S. Attorney David Gaouette.
“This case exemplifies why law enforcement must coordinate in targeting the diverse and transient nature of those criminals who threaten the safety of our communities,” said FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge James Davis. “Criminals know no boundaries and the FBI remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners, locally, nationally, and internationally, to address violent crime.”
“Due to the diligent work of the Metro Gang Task Force, a notorious gang’s efforts to obtain a foothold in the metro area has been significantly damaged,” said Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates.
“MS-13 members nationwide engage in a wide range of criminal activity and have been exceedingly violent,” said Colorado Bureau of Investigation Director Ronald C. Sloan. “The arrests today should send a message that Colorado will continue to work with federal, state and local law enforcement to make Colorado safe from these types
of gangs and their violent criminal enterprises.”
“We appreciate being able to work so closely with each of our partners in this effort and it really shows how effective our teamwork is in fighting gang and illegal drug activity,” said Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey.
If convicted, the defendants face penalties ranging from up to 20 years, and/or up to life in federal prison, depending on the drug distribution offense. Fines range from up to $250,000 to not more than a $2,000,000.
This case was investigated by the Metro Gang Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The Metro Gang Task Force is comprised of the following law enforcement agencies: The Aurora Police Department, the Denver Police Department, the Thornton Police Department, the Arvada Police Department, the Broomfield Police Department, the Westminster Police Department, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Denver District Attorney’s Office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Colorado Department of Corrections, the Colorado State Patrol, the Colorado Air National Guard, the Colorado Office of the Attorney General, the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Also assisting with today’s arrests are: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Los Angeles Police Department, and the California Department of Corrections.
AURORA Two years after federal authorities announced firearms and drug charges against 20 people accused of being members of a violent street gang, the charges have been dropped.Federal prosecutors announced the indictments against 20 people — including 12 from Aurora — accused of being members of the MS-13 gang in February 2009, [sic]
The indictments, which alleged the gang distributed methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, were aimed at stopping the street gang from setting up shop in the metro area, officials said at the time.
But last week, a spokesman for the United State’s Attorney’s Office in Denver confirmed that the charges stemming from the February 2009 indictments had been dropped.
“The decision to dismiss this portion of the case was made in the interest of justice, and is an appropriate disposition of this matter,” Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney in Denver, said in an email last week.
While those federal charges have been dropped, it wasn’t immediately clear if the defendants, some of whom were suspected illegal immigrants, still faced other charges. Based on a check of Colorado Department of Corrections records, it doesn’t appear as though any of the 20 are currently in prison on state charges.
At the time of the indictments, authorities said the arrests culminated a three-year investigation into the gang, which has its roots in El Salvador and which officials say has members around the United States and Latin America.
During the course of the investigation, agents and officers seized 10 pounds of methamphetamine, 2.3 kilograms of cocaine, 124 grams of heroin, 12 firearms, and $3,300 in cash, federal authorities said in a statement.
Authorities said the gang members were led by Gerardo Lopez, then 31, of Denver, and Jose Garcia-Sanchez, then 26, of Aurora, and that they conspired to distribute and possessed with intent to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana.
Like the other 18, federal charges against Lopez and Garcia-Sanchez have been dropped. Lopez’s court-appointed lawyer, Mark Johnson, declined to comment on the dismissal of charges last week.