Drug ringleader pleads guilty | AspenTimes.com

Drug ringleader pleads guilty

ASPEN The alleged drug kingpin of the Aspen Business Center car wash pleaded guilty Monday to distribution of cocaine.Federal and local agents arrested Jose Jesus “Chuy” Sanchez-Ceja in late September after a 10-month undercover operation. Sanchez-Ceja originally was charged with seven felony drug charges, including “being the supervisor of the conspiracy”; he faced an eight-year minimum sentence if convicted. On Monday, he pleaded guilty to one felony. As part of the plea agreement, his sentence will not exceed 10 years; he will be sentenced on April 16. Sanchez-Ceja was arrested 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. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team conducted the raids, which also resulted in the arrests of 36 suspected illegal aliens by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to assistant district attorney Gail 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.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com

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