CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Law enforcement officials announced Wednesday that a drug investigation led to eight indictments and the seizure of a large quantity of drugs, including 200,000 fentanyl pills.
The joint investigation involved a "lengthy wiretap investigation" that resulted in one of the largest fentanyl pill seizures in Colorado's history, according to the district attorney's office.
The investigation began in December 2021 with a single drug purchase and a tip sent to the DEA in Wyoming, District Attorney John Kellner said.
The drugs originated from Mexico from an unidentified coconspirator who was the primary source of narcotics. Keller said the individual would coordinate with a drug trafficking organization to bring the drugs up from Mexico for distribution in the Denver metro area.
Kellner said that the following were seized during the investigation:
- 200,000 fentanyl pills (including about 170,000 seized from a vehicle outside an Aurora apartment)
- 9.5 pounds of heroin
- 1 kilo of cocaine
- 4 guns
- $60,000 in apparent stolen merchandise such as power tools and baby supplies
Eight suspects were indicted for their roles as smugglers and distributors in a drug trafficking organization that meth and heroin in addition to fentanyl, according to Kellner.
One of the indicted suspects is a woman accused of sending proceeds from drug sales back to Mexico through a money remitting business, Kellner said.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian Besser said this year the Rocky Mountain Division has seized 1.5 million fake fentanyl pills as of March 31, including 1.1. million in Colorado alone.
The division also has nearly 50 active death investigations resulting from fentanyl overdoses.
Besser also highlighted a June 6 seizure by the Colorado State Patrol from a vehicle heading east on I-70 to Denver of 114 pounds of pure fentanyl powder, which is the largest recorded seizure on a U.S. highway. That case remains under investigation.
He also noted that the DEA has worked with the 18th Judicial District alone to prosecute more than 20 "significant" cases related to the trafficking of drugs including fentanyl.
Those cases involved 65 high-level defendants and the seizure of the following, according to Besser:
- About 500,000 fake fentanyl pills
- 360 pounds of methamphetamine
- 114 pounds of heroin
- 114 pounds of cocaine
- 198 guns
- More than $16 million in U.S. cash / suspected drug trafficking proceeds
Besser said the DEA is aggressively pursuing fentanyl trafficking in Colorado due to its position in the country.
"The greater Denver area is the crossroads of the west, and our communities here are in the direct line of fire as critical transshipment points for transnational criminal organizations who are seeking to increase their poison on the market," Besser said. "We are in the line of fire, so to speak, just because of where are geographically placed. The I-70 and I-25 corridors are where deadly drugs head north and east, and money heads south."
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