In decrying the resources wasted in a failed prosecution of medical marijuana caregiver Josh Jones (a total he estimated at over $100,000), attorney Rob Corry suggested that law enforcers focus on meth rather than weed. Little did he know that the U.S. Attorney's Office in Colorado and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force were doing just that via an operation dubbed Dark Angel.
The indictments on view below feature a grand total of 135 charges aimed at 22 people, half of them from Colorado and only two of whom are still at large following arrests here and in California, Iowa and Utah yesterday. Here's the complete list:
Armando Mendoza-Haro (Northglenn, CO) Jesus Segovia (Denver, CO) Miguel Angel Sanchez (San Bernardino, CA) Daniela Munguia de Ortiz (Pomona, CA) Yuly Hernandez-Orozco (Edgewater, CO) Alejandro Morales-Garcia (Marshalltown, IA) Carlos Martin Segura Chang (Downey, CA) Sonia Perez (Denver, CO) Reyna Mendoza-Haro (Corcoran, CA) Jaime Moreno-Lopez (currently in BOP custody) Ricky Henry Cisneros (Denver, CO) Ivan Gomez-Avila (Denver, CO) Shana Louise Claybourn (Denver, CO) Cris Anthony Sandoval (Lakewood, CO) Todd Joseph Trujillo (Westminster, CO) Kennie Ray Snyder (currently in state custody) Christina Rose Malmgren (Highlands Ranch, CO) Desiree Rose Ceballes (Glendale, CO) Ricardo Paniagua-Rodriguez (San Ysidro, California) Sergio Mendoza-Valdovinos (Utah)
Mendoza-Haro appears first in this roster because he's considered the kingpin of the operation, which was busted following an investigation that began a year and a half ago and is said to have established links to Mexico. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Mendoza-Haro and company hooked up with drivers from a trucking company who were amenable to using their tractor trailers to transport meth from California to Colorado, and cash in the opposite direction. As seen in photos provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration, one such cache of cash was found in a truck loaded with milk.
That wasn't the only alleged method of transport. The feds say one minor was driven to California with bills strapped to his body.
The conspirators are accused of laundering the money via multiple bank accounts and frequent wire transfers -- and there was apparently plenty of moolah to pass around. Agents seized more than $715,000, in addition to six-pounds-plus of meth, a gun, a 2004 Freightliner tractor trailer and a 2010 Chevy Camaro.
The trip through the justice system could be a long one for the Dark Angel 22. If they're convicted, the assorted defendants face a slew of possible sentences, ranging from not more than four years for using a communication facility (i.e., a phone) to commit a felony drug crime up to life in prison. There's also the possibility of property forfeiture -- meaning there could be more sweet rides in the government's future.
Here are more photos from the Dark Angel busts, followed by the indictments.
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More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: State wastes $100K when caregiver beats rap?"