U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Colorado
1225 Seventeenth Street, Suite 700
Seventeenth Street Plaza
Denver, Colorado 80202
Fax: (303) 454-0400
For Immediate Release
June 15, 2010
David M. Gaouette, United States Attorney
Contact: Jeff Dorschner
Forty-Six Gang Members and Associates Indicted in Large-Scale Drug and Gun Investigation in Greeley
16 Arrested in Massive Enforcement Action This Morning
DENVER — The ATF led Greeley RAGE Task Force (Regional Anti-Gang Enforcement), including the Greeley Police Department and the FBI, along with multiple other law enforcement jurisdictions, arrested 16 people this morning as part of a criminal investigation into drug distribution and gun possession by gang members and associates in Greeley, Colorado. Today’s arrests were the result of a federal grand jury indictment on June 10, 2010. On April 21, 2010, based on an investigation initiated by the Weld County Drug Task Force, a separate grand jury indictment was returned charging 13 individuals for drug distribution and gun possession. During the course of the investigations, 46 people were charged in four separate indictments. The two main indictments together include 43 defendants and a total of 190 counts. Of those arrested, some were taken to U.S. District Court in Denver, where they made initial appearances to be advised of the charges pending against them. The remaining defendants will be taken to federal court tomorrow.
Seizures during the two and a half year investigation include 1 pound of methamphetamine that was 98 percent pure, 6.3 pounds of methamphetamine that was 100 percent pure (worth over $500,000), 21 firearms (including a SKS assault rifle and three sawed off shotguns), one half pound of cocaine, one quarter pound of crack cocaine, nine pounds of marijuana, and 3.6 grams of mushrooms.
The first indictment (U.S. v. Miguel Angel Velasquez et al) was returned on April 21, 2010, charging 13 defendants with 51 counts of drug trafficking crimes, including conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine, and more than 5 kilograms of marijuana. Two of the defendants are also charged with being felons in possession of firearms. Three of the defendants reside in California, and one in Mexico. The indictment includes two counts of distribution within 1,000 feet of a playground. If convicted of the main drug charge, these defendants face not less than 10 years, and up to life in federal prison, as well as a $4,000,000 fine. The second indictment (U.S. v. Venieto J. Montelongo) was returned on April 22, 2010, charging one defendant with four criminal counts, including distribution and possession with intent to distribute less than 5 grams of methamphetamine. That defendant is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. If convicted the defendant in the second indictment faces not more than 20 years in federal prison on the drug charge, and not more than 10 years imprisonment on the gun charge.
The third indictment (U.S. v. Michael Wayne Morgan et al) was returned on May 4, 2010, charging two defendants with 11 counts of gun and drug crimes. The first defendant faces multiple firearms charges, as well as drug charges, including possession of a sawed-off shotgun, distribution and possession with intent to distribute meth, and using a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime. The second defendant in the third indictment faces one count of drug distribution. If convicted, the first defendant faces not more than 20 years in federal prison for the drug crime, and not more than 10 years imprisonment for each count of the firearm crimes. If convicted of using a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, the defendant faces an additional 5 years consecutive to any other federal sentence.
The fourth indictment (U.S. v. Jeramy Antuna et al), charges 30 defendants with 139 counts of drug and gun crimes. Included in the fourth indictment allegations of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, as well as substantive drug trafficking crimes. Four are charged with distribution in a school zone, and three are charged with distribution while a child under 18 is present. Fourteen counts in the indictment involve firearm charges, including the possession of three sawed off shotguns. One defendant was also charged for maintaining a premises for the purpose of drug distribution.
A large scale operation, such as this, demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to work closely with local, state, and federal partners to make our communities safer, said U.S. Attorney David Gaouette.
The indictment of 46 people responsible for distributing meth and other dangerous drugs and illegally possessing firearms should have a serious negative impact on the drug trade in Greeley.
This investigation started over two years ago as a result of information developed by our local officers in the Weld County Drug Task Force, said Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner.
We then asked the federal agencies to join the case. I believe the results speak for the excellent working relationship we have with our federal law enforcement partners.
We are committed to a long-term investment of personnel and resources to fight violent crime in Northern Colorado, said ATF Special Agent in Charge Marvin Richardson.
ATF has a personal stake in the success of our violent crime efforts in Colorado. Our employees are your neighbors living and working and caring about Northern Colorado. From its inception in March 2008, the task force officers from the Greeley Police Department, and the Special Agents from the ATF and FBI assigned to the Northern Colorado RAGE Task Force have worked tirelessly focusing on attacking violent street gangs, armed criminals, and narcotics traffickers in Greeley and throughout Northern Colorado.
Let today’s actions send a very clear message, violent street gangs and their criminal activity will not be tolerated in this state, said FBI Special Agent in Charge James Davis.
Even though our agents, along with our law enforcement partners, have worked more than two years to infiltrate and weed out some of the nation’s most notorious violent street offenders, our job to protect the citizens of Colorado is not over. We will continue to investigate violent street gangs to disrupt and dismantle their criminal organizations to make our communities as safe as possible.
Weld County is a safer place as a result of the hard work and collaboration of local police authorities and federal law enforcement agencies, said Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck.
I applaud the extensive and high quality police work and mutual cooperation so that criminals like this can be arrested to make our communities safer, said Weld County Sheriff John Cooke.
This case was investigated by the Greeley RAGE Task Force, which includes the Greeley Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The task force is in direct partnership with the Weld County District Attorney’s Office, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, the Weld County Drug Task Force (comprised of investigators from the Greeley Police Department, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, and the Evans Police Department), the United States Marshals Service, the Colorado Department of Corrections Inspector General’s Office, the Colorado Department of Corrections Division of Adult Parole, and the Rocky Mountain HIDTA.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys M.J. Menendez and Kasandra Carleton.
The charges contained in the indictments are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.