A heroin sting that was first launched a year ago has resulted in 25 indictments and the seizure of 47 pounds – or $2.2 million – of Mexican heroin, authorities announced Tuesday.
Dubbed Operation Muchas Pacas, the heroin bust was a partnership between the Denver Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, the Denver Police Department and West Metro Drug Task Force, as well as numerous other local and federal agencies.
"The poison that is heroin is being pumped into our area from south of the Mexican border," 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler said. "We have a failure at our border protect us from people who would like to make money off the addiction and enslavement of good people up here in Colorado."
Investigators used court-authorized wiretap intercepts and confidential informants to track a group that was importing heroin from Mexico into Colorado, where it was distributed in the Denver metro area.
The members of the drug ring smuggled heroin into the country by concealing it in the spare tires of load vehicles and in FedEx packages, according to a joint news release from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, DPD and the DEA.
"This is an organized crime group that is international," said Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey. "They are coming into our community to take advantage of young people that are addicted to heroin."
The task force also executed 17 search warrants in Colorado, and 17 arrest warrants in Colorado, Arizona and California.
In addition to heroin, authorities say Operation Muchas Pacas has netted:
-$218,712 in drug proceeds
-1.4 pounds of cocaine (worth $30,000)
-Three vehicles worth approximately $20,000
-11 firearms, including seven handguns of which one was stolen, three assault rifles and a shotgun
Despite the progress, investigators concede their work isn't done.
"This is not the only cell we have working in our Denver metro area, and we’re just going to push forward and start working on the next one,"' said Barbra Roach, the Special Agent in Charge for the DEA Denver field division.
"Five years ago we were not a huge market for heroin," Roach said. "We are now."