U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Colorado
(303) 454-0100
May 20, 2015

Statement by U.S. Attorney John Walsh Regarding Heroin Roundup

DENVER—Today U.S. Attorney John Walsh issued the following statement and list of those indicted and arrested as part of the announcement of federal and state indictments and arrests of the Ruelas-Torres Drug Trafficking Organization:

“This operation represents the gold standard for federal state cooperation and investigation of drug trafficking organizations. The Colorado Attorney General’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office worked hand–in hand with the federally funded Denver OCDETF Strike Force, most importantly teaming up with the DEA, IRS, FBI, HSI, Colorado State Patrol and other key agencies.

“The federal indictment has a specific goal: Through these federal money laundering and financial charges, we aim to strangle this heroin-trafficking organization both in Colorado and in Mexico by depriving it of the oxygen it needs—money.

“Let’s not understate the pain, suffering and death that heroin traffickers are causing here in Colorado. Colorado is in the midst of a heroin epidemic—the number of heroin overdose deaths skyrocketed from 2003 to 2012 by 600%. In 2013 alone, at least 118 Coloradans died of overdoses in which heroin played a role. In 2014, the situation was even worse: 147 Coloradans died of heroin-related overdoses, a 25% increase in one year. Since 2010, the Colorado Department of Health believes that nearly 500 [481] Coloradans have died from heroin overdoses. This is a disaster hiding in plain sight.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office has obtained federal grand jury indictments charging 17 defendants. The federal charges focus on the large scale criminal enterprise and the illegal money laundering activities. Of those named in the federal indictment, 6 are in custody, and 11 remain at large, of which we believe 6 are in Mexico.

“I’d like to thank the Colorado Attorney General’s Office—including the Attorney General and her prosecutors, along with our team at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. And critically, Colorado owes special thanks and appreciation to the Organized Crime & Drug Enforcement Task force-funded Denver Strike Force team, including the DEA, IRS Criminal Investigation, FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, Colorado State Patrol, Northern Colorado Drug Task Force, West Metro Drug Task Force, the Denver Police Department and the Aurora Police Department. Together, we have disrupted a well-organized highly sophisticated drug trafficking organization.”

Those named in the federal indictment:

  • JOEL EFREN RUELAS-AVILA, a/k/a “Efren,” (fugitive in Mexico)
  • JOSE LUIS RUELAS-TORRES, (fugitive in Mexico)
  • MARIA DE JESUS ESPINOZA-RODRIGUEZ, a/k/a “Maria,” (fugitive in Mexico)
  • BETITO LAST NAME UNKNOWN, (fugitive in Mexico)
  • JOSE CARLOS BARRAZA-ACEVES, a/k/a “Luis 2525,” (fugitive in Mexico)
  • HECTOR LIBRADO RIVERA-SANDOVAL, (fugitive in Mexico)
  • LEO DELFIN, (fugitive)
  • PEDRO ARMANDO GUTIERREZ-NUNEZ, a/k/a “Carlos 4109,” (arrested)
  • RAUL ESTRADA-CASTILLO, a/k/a “Javier Rios,” a/k/a “Irvin,” a/k/a “Ramon,” (arrested)
  • IVAN HARO-PEREZ, a/k/a “Ivan,” (fugitive)
  • JOSE VIDAL LEON-PENUELAS, a/k/a “Vidal,” (fugitive)
  • CARLOS ALBERTO PEREZ-GARCIA, (arrested)
  • PABEL ERBEY BERNAL-LOPEZ, (fugitive)
  • YAJAHIRA MELISSA LOPEZ-CALIDONIO, a/k/a “Melissa,” (arrested)
  • LIGIA LOPEZ-PEREZ, (fugitive)
  • NELI YANIRA CALIDONIO-MEZA, a/k/a “Neli.” (arrested)
  • MARTIN RODRIGUEZ-SANCHEZ (fugitive)
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