Feds issue fresh indictments in Montrose drug-trafficking and money laundering case

Seven more people have been indicted on offenses related to a methamphetamine and heroin trafficking case in Montrose County that previously saw 13 indicted.

Of the seven new defendants identified by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in a Saturday news release, four are from Montrose: Rafael Jaramillo-Hernandez, Margarita Cruz-Gomez, Carlos Quijana-Ruiz and Carlos Beltran-Gonzalez.

Jaramillo-Hernandez and Quijano-Ruiz were federally indicted for drug conspiracy. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that in 2019, they conspired with Daniel Gastelo-Ochoa of Denver and Catyria Lopez-Gomez of Fort Collins, as well as the 13 who were previously indicted, to distribute meth and heroin. They face at least 10 years in prison if convicted.

Quijano-Ruiz, Jaramillo-Hernandez, Lopez-Gomez, Cruz-Gomez, Dalilah Suarez-Lopez of Denver and Beltran-Gonzalez are accused of money-laundering conduct: conspiring with others to “conduct and attempt to conduct financial transactions involving the proceeds of illegal drug distribution,” the USAO said in announcing the indictments Saturday. These transactions were designed to conceal the nature, location, source and ownership of proceeds, the government alleges.

If convicted, these defendants face up to 20 years in prison.

The indictments came as part of a long-running investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Montrose County Sheriff’s Office, Montrose Police Department, 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force and 7th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

The prosecution, handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Phillips, is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation. The OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantled high-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations.

In January 2020, indictments were announced for: Ofelia Lopez; Romeo Lujan; Omar Briceno-Quijano; Luis Alberto Ibarra-Tade; Jonte LeFlore; Dustin Debarris; Steven Keith Jones; Frank Arroyo; Amanda Sumpter; Nicole Wickman; Angelina Maestas, Naomi Vaughn and Joseph Davis.

Maestas, Vaughn and Davis have since been sentenced to prison for their role in the scheme. Other cases are ongoing and those defendants, along with the newly indicted individuals, are presumed innocent.