Thirteen Montrose residents have been indicted by a federal grand jury for drug distribution crimes, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has announced.
A yearlong investigation by federal officials, the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office and the Montrose Police Department, and several other agencies, resulted in indictments on allegations of conspiracy to distribute significant quantities of methamphetamine and heroin.
Per the U.S. Attorney’s Office, those indicted are: Omar Briceno-Quijano (fugitive); Ofelia Lopez; Luis Alberto Ibarra-Tadeo; Romeo Lujan (fugitive); Angelina Maestas; Joseph Davis; Naomi Vaughn; Jonte LeFlore; Dustin Debarris; Steven Keith Jones; Frank Arroyo; Amanda Sumpter and Nicole Wickman.
The arrested defendants have been taken to Grand Junction, where they are making initial appearances before a U.S. District Judge.
According to the indictment, from Jan. 1, 2019 - Dec. 18, 2019, the defendants conspired with each other and others both known and unknown to the grand jury to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine, 500 grams or more of a mixture of a substance containing a detectable amount of meth, and less than 100 grams of heroin.
If convicted, the defendants face 10 years to life in federal prison.
In addition to the drug conspiracy charges, defendants face individual counts for distribution of meth or heroin. Several also face charges of using a phone to facilitate drug trafficking.
“Montrose law enforcement, working with the DEA, has done an outstanding job identifying those who are trafficking methamphetamine and heroin to members of their community,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn, in a provided statement. “It is a high priority of this office to support our rural communities facing large scale drug problems.”
“The DEA recognized the increased availability of methamphetamine in the Montrose area two years ago. We worked closely with the Montrose Police Department, the Montrose Sheriff’s Office and the Seventh Judicial Drug Task Force to target alleged distributors that were identified in the area,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge of the Denver Division Deanne Reuter in a news release.
“The success of this operation is the result of the strong partnership formed between law enforcement agencies, where all involved are deeply committed to working together to protecting the citizens of Montrose and the surrounding area from scourge of methamphetamine.”
Sheriff Gene Lillard thanked the DEA for its assistance.
“The amount of drug trafficking that we are experiencing in the County of Montrose has been on the increase over the last decade. The Montrose County Sheriff’s Office has been working and will continue to work proactively to combat the drug issues that are affecting the city and county of Montrose,” he said in the news release, adding the agencies would continue working together, along with the 7th Judicial Drug Task Force, U.S. Marshal’s Office, ATF, Colorado State Patrol and other state and local agencies.
“The drug problem in the County of Montrose is directly related to our crime rate of burglaries, thefts, scams and even domestic violence that we deal with on a daily basis. This operation has been a long time coming and we hope to see a ripple effect in the future to stop those who want to be drug dealers in Montrose County.”
Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall said disrupting drug trafficking is a high priority.
“These arrests should communicate that our community suffers from a major drug trafficking issue, and these arrests are critical in keeping our community safe,” he said.
“The disruption, apprehension, and prosecution of these offenders is a high priority for the Montrose Police Department, and we value the partnership we have with the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The addition of the DEA gives the City of Montrose new tools to investigate suspected offenders committing drug crimes in our community.”
He commended all involved agencies.
“Their efforts will have long-term payoffs for our community in the realm of public safety and crime reduction.”
This investigation was conducted by the Denver Division of the DEA, the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office, and the Montrose Police Department, as well as representatives from the 7th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
The charges contained in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.