Feds arrest Aspen men in drug trafficking sweep
Federal drug agents arrested an Aspen man at the Hunter Creek Apartments last week as part of an effort to take down a major Mexican drug-trafficking operation, according to sources and court documents.
Oscar Mora-Campos, 43, was one of two Aspen residents and one New Castle resident arrested April 20 for allegedly being part of a multimillion dollar operation that transported large quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico to Colorado via California, according to federal court documents and a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver.
Those three men plus 14 others were indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver after a one-year investigation that found the drugs were distributed out of the El Rancho Market in Aurora, according to the documents. The leader of the operation in Aurora allegedly made more than $3 million in deposits between 2013 and 2016, while another man allegedly made more than $600,000 in cash deposits during the same period, the documents state.
Mora-Campos was arrested April 20 at Hunter Creek without incident, said Aspen Police Detective Ritchie Zah, who assisted in the arrest. Mora-Campos was not known to Aspen police and it was not clear Thursday his exact role in the drug-trafficking operation, according to Zah and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver.
Jose Chica-Orellana, who is either 37 or 38, also was listed in court documents as an Aspen resident. Chica-Orellana — who also is known as Adrian Flores — was arrested March 30 in Las Vegas, according to court documents. Zah said he did not know that name either.
New Castle resident, Edurado Jimenez-Sanchez, 37, was one of two men arrested April 20 in Breckenridge, according to court documents.
Nine of the defendants indicted were arrested April 20, while Chica-Orellana was already in custody. The remaining seven — three of whom are not named in the indictment — are fugitives, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office statement.
Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver, said Thursday he could not provide details about Mora-Campos and Chica-Orellana’s alleged trafficking activities in the Aspen area.
Mora-Campos is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute 1 kilogram or more of heroin, two counts of cocaine distribution and using a phone to commit a felony. He faces up to life in prison. Mora-Campos pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday and a federal magistrate court judge ordered that he remain in custody, according to court documents.
Chica-Orellana is charged with conspiracy to distribute 1 kilogram or more of heroin, two counts of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams of cocaine or more, one count of distribution of cocaine and one count of using a phone to commit a felony. He faces up to life in prison. He pleaded not guilty to the charges Thursday and remains in custody, according to court documents.
Jimenez-Sanchez is charged with conspiracy to distribute 1 kilogram or more of heroin and one count of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine. He faces up to life in prison and has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He also remains in federal custody.
The leader of the trafficking operation, Jose Tapia-Rubio, 58, allegedly owned the El Rancho Market in Aurora. Confidential informants allegedly bought $1,000 ounces of cocaine and $500 ounces of methamphetamine at both the market and Tapia-Rubio’s home, according to the statement.
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Pitkin County’s vaccination roll-out continues Friday and Sunday and will include the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine.