Police: Denver meth ring used comic books to launder cash
August 24, 2009
DENVER – Two brothers accused of running a drug ring that imported and distributed millions of dollars worth of methamphetamine in Denver bought hundreds of collector comic books to launder the money, authorities said Monday.
Police seized comic books worth at least $500,000 while arresting Aaron Castro, 29, of Commerce City and Alfonzo Castro, 30, of Denver, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said.
“It was their intent to launder money, and their choice was collector comic books,” Suthers said.
Some of the seized comic books were first edition Superman and Batman publications encased in protective plastic covers, Adams County District Attorney Don Quick said.
“It appeared as they were working on a startup company for high-end comic books,” he said. One of the comic books was worth about $3,500.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the brothers had started selling the comic books.
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The ring imported and distributed as much as 100,000 doses of meth each month, collecting about $500,000, Suthers said.
Women acting as “mules” would insert the drugs into their vaginal cavities to ferry the drugs to houses throughout the metro area where it would be sold, authorities said.
“It’s a tawdry piece of information, but it’s a big part of what this group was doing,” Suthers said.
Denver once had more than 100 meth labs broken up each year. But a change in the law and stepped up enforcement has reduced the amount of locally manufactured meth, leaving such drug rings to fill the void, Quick said.
Suthers said members of the drug ring would pick up pounds of meth in Phoenix, which led him to believe it was produced in a “superlab” in Mexico
Forty-one people were indicted in the case, with all but one in custody. Nineteen, including the Castro brothers, face racketeering and conspiracy charges, while the rest are accused of possession and intent to distribute drugs and other charges.
Phone numbers listed for the Castro brothers have been disconnected. It’s not clear whether they have attorneys.
The brothers and two other suspects were being held on $1 million bail, while 15 others charged with racketeering and conspiracy were being held on $500,000 bail, Suthers said. Bail varied for the remaining suspects.
The indictment was filed after a yearlong investigation that included undercover police work and wiretaps.
More than 200 police officers fanned out across the Denver metro area on Aug. 14 to make arrests, said Broomfield Police Chief Tom Deland, head of the North Metro Task Force that lead the investigation.