Car wash cocaine dealer gets seven years | AspenTimes.com
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Car wash cocaine dealer gets seven years

ASPEN A district judge Monday sentenced a man who dealt cocaine from an Aspen car wash to seven years in prison, a far stiffer punishment than the probation a defense attorney suggested.Drug Enforcement Agency officers arrested Jose Jesus “Chuy” Sanchez-Ceja, 53, in September after a 10-month undercover operation. Sanchez-Ceja originally faced seven felony drug charges but pleaded guilty to one in an agreement that capped prison time at 10 years. Officials said Sanchez-Ceja dealt cocaine from the car wash at the Aspen Business Center. At Monday’s sentencing hearing in Aspen, assistant district attorney Gail Nichols argued that Sanchez-Ceja should get the full sentence because of the volume of cocaine he trafficked at the car wash.”[Sanchez-Ceja] has the ability to front someone $2,400 worth of cocaine,” Nichols said during the hearing, noting that authorities found more than $30,000 in cash at Sanchez-Ceja’s house. “This is a man dealing in big quantities and with big quantities of money.”Sanchez-Ceja’s lawyer, Mark Rubinstein, argued that Sanchez-Ceja has been misrepresented as the ringleader when he was only a low-level dealer. “There have been a lot, a lot of unsubstantiated allegations about Mr. Sanchez-Ceja,” Rubinstein said, suggesting that punishment should be no firmer than probation. “I have been very frustrated with the way this case has been handled by the office of the district attorney.”When sentencing Sanchez-Ceja, 9th Judicial District Judge James Boyd acknowledged the differing views but said the guilty plea was significant. “The $30,000 found at your home at least suggests participation on a larger scale,” Boyd said.Sanchez-Ceja apologized to the community, his family and the court before sentencing. He asked forgiveness from his family, many of whom were in attendance.The DEA arrested Sanchez-Ceja in a series of valleywide drug raids, which led to the arrests of six suspected cocaine dealers and the seizure of $14,000 worth of cocaine and $64,000 in cash.According to Nichols, undercover officers observed Sanchez-Ceja selling cocaine on July 25. The undercover operation was cut short when DEA agents, listening through a wiretap on Sanchez-Ceja’s phone, thought he was making plans to flee.”We are extremely fortunate we got [Sanchez-Ceja] when we did,” DEA agent Tom Gorman said soon after the arrest. “Had our team gotten there five minutes later, it’s unlikely we would have arrested him.”Sanchez-Ceja was sentenced to seven years in prison, with 203 days’ credit for time already served in the Pitkin County Jail. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com


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