Five sentenced in Garfield-Mesa county drug case | AspenTimes.com

Five sentenced in Garfield-Mesa county drug case

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

A case involving drug trafficking in Garfield and Mesa counties that led to a 2016 drug sting resulted in five people being sentenced to federal prison this week for their respective roles.

Sentencing hearings were held over two days Monday and Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Grand Junction. Four additional defendants still have sentencing hearings pending, U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer and DEA Denver Division Special Agent in Charge William T. McDermott announced in a U.S. Justice Department statement.

Colorado Chief U.S. District Court Judge Marcia S. Krieger, sitting in Grand Junction for the hearings, ordered the following sentences for those convicted in the case.

• Sean Herrera, 46, to serve 96 months in federal prison, followed by five years on supervised release;

• Sergio Gonzalez-Lomeli, 23, to serve 60 months in federal prison, followed by four years on supervised release;

• Brandon Latgiue, 40, to serve nine months in federal prison, followed by three years on supervised release;

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• Ricardo Morales, 36, to serve 78 months in federal prison, followed by five years on supervised release;

• Karinda Sills, 52, to serve 120 months in federal prison, followed by five years on supervised release.

According to court documents, in April 2016, the Glenwood Springs branch of DEA began investigating drug trafficking occurring in Garfield and Mesa counties. The investigation involved surveillance of targets, controlled purchases of methamphetamine and wiretaps of telephones and Facebook accounts.

"The investigation ultimately revealed that Paul Hernandez Contreras was a California source of supply for methamphetamine and cocaine who would bring large quantities of narcotics from California to Colorado," according to the Tuesday statement.

"Daniel Tapia-Morales was a distributor for Hernandez Contreras and Tapia-Morales had his own customer base," the statement said.

In addition to drug trafficking, several individuals in the investigation would trade firearms for narcotics, according to documents in the case.

Ultimately, over 3 kilograms of methamphetamine and half a kilogram of cocaine were seized, as well as firearms and thousands of dollars. The investigation resulted in the indictment of 10 individuals, including the five sentenced this week and Tapia-Morales.

Assisting in the investigation was Garfield County Two River Drug Enforcement Team (TRIDENT) and agents from Mesa County. TRIDENT is a multi-jurisdictional drug task force funded through federal, state and local government funding sources.

"This case demonstrates the importance of DEA's relationship with state and local task forces, such TRIDENT, in order to dismantle and disrupt drug trafficking organizations responsible for poisoning our communities through the sale of methamphetamine, cocaine and firearms," McDermott said in the statement.

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