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The original item was published from 1/15/2020 1:51:04 PM to 7/1/2020 12:05:01 AM.

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Posted on: January 15, 2020

[ARCHIVED] U.S. Attorney, DEA, Montrose County Sheriff, Montrose Police Announce Major Drug Enforcement Action

*** Per U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Colorado News Release ***

Montrose, CO — Following a year-long investigation, thirteen Montrose residents were indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver and charged with the drug distribution crimes.  State officers, county sheriff deputies, and the DEA then arrested eleven of the indicted individuals.  The announcement was made by United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Deanne Reuter, Montrose County Sheriff Gene Lillard and Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall.  The arrested defendants were transported to Grand Junction, where they are making their initial appearances before a U.S. Magistrate Judge.  At that appearance, they will be advised of their rights and the charges pending against them. 

According to the indictment, from January 1, 2019, through December 18, 2019, the thirteen defendants, named below, conspired with each other and others known and unknown to the grand jury to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine, 500 grams or more of a mixture of a substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, and less than 100 grams of heroin.  If convicted, each defendant faces a minimum of 10 years, and up to life in federal prison.

Those indicted include:

Omar Briceno-Quijano, age 29   FUGITIVE

Ofelia Lopez, age 49

Luis Alberto Ibarra-Tadeo, age 26

Romeo Lujan, age 28        FUGITIVE

Angelina Maestas, age 32

Joseph Davis, age 26

Naomi Vaughn, age 35

Jonte LeFlore, age 34

Dustin Debarris, age 31

Steven Keith Jones, age 33

Frank Arroyo, age 44

Amanda Lee Sumpter, age 49

Nicole Wickman, age 36

In addition to the conspiracy charges, the defendants face individual counts for the distribution of methamphetamine and heroin.  Multiple defendants also face charges of using a communication device, a phone, to facilitate their drug trafficking. 

“Montrose law enforcement, working with the DEA, has done an outstanding job identifying those who are trafficking methamphetamine and heroin to members of their community,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn.  “It is a high priority of this office to support our rural communities facing large scale drug problems.”

“The DEA recognized the increased availability of methamphetamine in the Montrose area two years ago. We worked closely with the Montrose Police Department, the Montrose Sheriff’s Office and the Seventh Judicial Drug Task Force to target alleged distributors that were identified in the area,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge of the Denver Division Deanne Reuter.  “The success of this operation is the result of the strong partnership formed between law enforcement agencies, where all involved are deeply committed to working together to protecting the citizens of Montrose and the surrounding area from the scourge of methamphetamine.”

“On behalf of the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office, I would like to commend the DEA for its leadership and assistance with this operation,” said Montrose County Sheriff Gene Lillard.  “The amount of drug trafficking that we are experiencing in the County of Montrose has been on the increase over the last decade.  The Montrose County Sheriff’s Office has been working and will continue to work proactively to combat the drug issues that are affecting the city and county of Montrose.  We are working side by side and will continue to work with the DEA, Montrose Police Department, 7th Judicial Drug Task Force, U.S. Marshal’s Office, ATF, Colorado State Patrol and other state and local agencies.  The drug problem in the County of Montrose is directly related to our crime rate of burglaries, thefts, scams and even domestic violence that we deal with on a daily basis.  This operation has been a long time coming and we hope to see a ripple effect in the future to stop those who want to be drug dealers in Montrose County.”

“These arrests should communicate that our community suffers from a major drug trafficking issue, and these arrests are critical in keeping our community safe,” said Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall.  “The disruption, apprehension, and prosecution of these offenders is a high priority for the Montrose Police Department, and we value the partnership we have with the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration.  The addition of the DEA gives the City of Montrose new tools to investigate suspected offenders committing drug crimes in our community.  I’d like to commend and thank the current 7th Judicial Drug Task Force members, DEA, and the multiple other federal, state, and local agencies for their steadfast work in this multifaceted investigation.  Their efforts will have long-term payoffs for our community in the realm of public safety and crime reduction.” 

This investigation was conducted by the Denver Division of the DEA, the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office, and the Montrose Police Department, as well as representatives from the 7th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. 

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. 

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