Lead defendant charged under the federal drug kingpin statute
Date: February 19, 2020
DENVER – 30 defendants were indicted in two federal grand jury indictments for trafficking drugs, including methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl. Of the 30 defendants indicted, 24 have been arrested and one is in state custody on a separate charge. Four others are in Mexico and one is at large in the United States.
According to the indictments and other court documents, following an investigation that began in late 2018, agents seized approximately 400 pounds of methamphetamine, 5 pounds of heroin, 4 pounds of cocaine, and 15,000 fentanyl pills, which were disguised to look like prescription oxycodone.
The arrests included more than two dozen suspected members of a Mexican drug trafficking organization based in Denver, including one, Candelaria Vallejo-Gallo, who is being charged with operating a Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CCE), otherwise known as being charged as a Drug Kingpin. To be considered a Drug Kingpin, the individual has to violate the Controlled Substances Act as part of a series of related or ongoing violations. Additionally, the defendant must be an organizer, supervisor, or manager of at least five other persons connected in the same activity, and obtain substantial income or resources from the series of violations. If convicted of being a Drug Kingpin, Vallejo-Gallo faces not less than 20 years, and up to life in federal prison. Vallejo-Gallo is a Mexican national.
In addition to the drug trafficking charges, at least one defendant is charged with carrying a firearm in furtherance of the drug conspiracy.
"IRS-CI has and will continue to investigate drug traffickers by pursuing sophisticated, high profile, income tax, currency-related, and money laundering charges against these criminals," said Acting Special Agent in Charge, Amanda Prestegard.
"This indictment reflects the hard work of our special agents and law enforcement partners who worked diligently over the last year to investigate the Vallejo Drug Trafficking Organization and bring them to justice," said Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, Denver, Stephanie Lord Eisert. "Homeland Security Investigations remains committed to targeting the flow of money which fuels transnational organized crime, and we will continue to aggressively pursue those that enable the flow of deadly narcotics into our communities."
This investigation was handled by the FBI, the DEA, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Douglas County Sheriff, the Colorado State Patrol, and the Aurora Police Department.
"This is a very significant operation that took a massive amount of drugs and a large number of drug traffickers off our streets," said United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn. "I want to commend the work of the FBI for their outstanding investigation, as well as for their tactical operation last week in apprehending this large number of defendants without incident. I also want to thank the other law enforcement agencies that participated in this operation and the arrests. Colorado's law enforcement community is second to none in terms of our ability to work collaboratively to ensure that criminals are apprehended and that the best interests of the public are always our controlling objective."
"The combined efforts of the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Colorado State Patrol, Aurora PD, and a multitude of other law enforcement agencies resulted in the FBI OCDETF Strike Force Group taking a significant drug trafficking organization off the streets of Denver and Aurora," said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips. "Thanks to these partnerships, our community and children are safer."
The defendants are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cyrus Chung and Zachary Phillips.
The charges contained in the indictments are allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty.