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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

District of Colorado

For Immediate Release

July 15, 2011

John F. Walsh, United States Attorney

Contact: Jeff Dorschner, Public Information Officer
(303) 454-0243

Denver Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Gun, Drug and Immigration Crimes

DENVER — Ismael Gonzales–Arenas, age 47, of Denver, Colorado, was sentenced earlier this week to spend the rest of his natural life in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn after being convicted on gun, drug and immigration charges, United States Attorney John Walsh, ATF Special Agent in Charge Marvin Richardson and ICE HSI Special Agent in Charge David M. Marwell announced. The defendant was originally charged in 2004, and was found guilty following a bench trial on September 29, 2010, but because of issues around the Armed Career Criminal Act and the defendant–s prior convictions, the final sentencing hearing didn–t take place until July 11, 2011. Gonzales–Arenas was acquitted of one charge involving distributing crack near a school.

According to the government’s sentencing statement, which references evidence and testimony from the defendant’s trial, Gonzales–Arenas was involved in a drug conspiracy which ran from September 1, 2003 through May 28, 2004. During that time, Gonzaels–Arenas was distributing crack cocaine to numerous people from his residence in West Denver. On the day of his arrest, in May 2004, Gonzales–Arenas was on probation for a State drug trafficking offense. Some of the defendant’s crack cocaine customers received over 3.5 grams (an "eightball") on a daily basis. In total, the trial established that during the course of the conspiracy the defendant distributed more than 1600 grams (or at least 1.6 kilograms) of crack.

In addition, Gonzales–Arenas was found guilty of possession of a firearm by an armed career criminal. To qualify to be an armed career criminal the defendant would need three prior convictions for a serious drug felony or a crime of violence. He was also convicted of maintaining a drug involved premises (located in the 1110 block of 41st Avenue in Denver), conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and unlawful reentry subsequent to an aggravated felony conviction. Evidence showed the defendant was deported from the United States in 1999 following his conviction for First Degree Sexual Assault in Oregon.

"Due to the hard work of federal law enforcement, this armed career criminal and drug dealer will spend the rest of his life behind bars," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. "The close and effective cooperation of ATF and ICE in this case has made Denver a safer place."

"ATF will aggressively pursue these violent criminals that occupy our communities and will continue to work with our partners to ensure that they are held accountable," said ATF Special Agent in Charge Marvin Richardson. "This sentence demonstrates the seriousness of these criminal acts and emphasizes that the ATF will not tolerate those who perpetrate violence against the citizens of Colorado."

"ICE HSI routinely works with our law enforcement partners to provide our expertise and law enforcement authorities on complex cases involving various types of crimes," said David Marwell, Special Agent in Charge of ICE HSI in Denver. "Due to this cooperation, this career criminal alien will be off U.S. streets – permanently.”

The case was investigate by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Denver Division of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI), and the Denver Police Department.

The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Phillips.