Photos: See pounds of meth and more seized in busts of two alleged drug gangs

Those of us whose knowledge of meth manufacture pretty much begins and ends with Breaking Bad will get a reality check from the following gritty, grungy, glamour-free photos of drugs, guns and more seized by the Metro Gang Task Force after busting not one but two alleged drug trafficking organizations. Indictments name 54 different people, a number of whom remain at large, and as you'll see, meth was found stuffed into walls, with thousands in cash turning up in the drawer of a crib. A real crib -- like what babies sleep in.

Look below to see the complete gallery, followed by a U.S. Attorneys Office release that outlines the arrests, including suspects still being sought.

Continue to see more photos from the busts in "Operation Gangster Disciples." Continue to see more photos from the busts in "Operation Gangster Disciples." Continue to see more photos from the busts in "Operation Gangster Disciples." Continue to see more photos from the busts in "Operation Gangster Disciples." Continue to see more photos from the busts in "Operation Gangster Disciples." U.S. Attorneys Office press release:

Well over 300 special agents and officers arrested 28 defendants for drug trafficking and related crimes during early morning raids

DENVER -- Following a two year criminal drug investigation, 54 defendants were named in four separate indictments charging various violations of the Controlled Substances Act, the United States Attorney's Office and the Metro Gang Task Force announced. Of the 54 defendants indicted, 28 were arrested during raids early this morning. There are 12 defendants who have not been apprehended, and are actively being sought by law enforcement. Finally, there are 14 defendants who were already in custody prior to today's takedown.

In addition to the arrests, agents and officers this morning recovered 2 pounds of methamphetamine, approximately $40,000 in cash, and 2 firearms. These seizures were in addition to evidence found during the pendency of the two unrelated investigations. The investigations, which were initiated in March of 2012, have resulted in the confiscation of 19,329.88 gross grams of methamphetamine, 614 gross grams of cocaine, 11.14 gross grams of heroin, 6.5 gross grams of MDMA (Ecstasy), and 18,287.8 gross grams of marijuana. In addition, 13 guns, 2 cars and $94,825, not counting items seized today.

The four indictments charged defendants from two separate and unrelated drug trafficking organizations (DTOs). The drugs being trafficked by both DTOs include: cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana. The investigations determined that some of the drugs being distributed throughout Metro Denver and along the Front Range came from Mexico. Some of the defendants who were responsible for trafficking these drugs are known for being involved with or having ties to others involved in violent crimes.

In the first DTO, known as "Operation Gangster Disciples", 21 defendants were named in two separate related indictments returned by a federal grand jury in Denver on charges ranging from Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute to distribution of various drugs, including: cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, and heroin. The DTO was allegedly run by defendant Ricky Kamil Garrison. In addition to drug trafficking charges, Garrison faces a charge for travel with the purpose of engaging in interstate prostitution. Another defendant, James Tillmon, faces state charges for hit and run. Some of the defendants in this DTO are members or associates of the Gangster Disciples (GD) gang. All face various drug trafficking related charges. In addition to the drug charges, various members in these indictments also face charges, including felons in possession of firearms, and distribution of dangerous drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.

Those arrested today include:

Francisco Aguilar, age 38, Denver Shawn Beardsley, age 45, Aurora Travis Edwards, age 52, Aurora Dondrai Fisher, age 41, Aurora Jesus Molina-Villarreal, age 45, Aurora Archie Poole, age 37, Aurora Francisco Ramirez, age 32, Aurora Simeon Ramirez, age 40, Denver Javier Segura-Cisneros, age 27, Aurora Khari Smith, age 37, Aurora Sidney Taylor, age 48, Denver Christopher Vigil, age 27, Denver Latoya Wimbush, age 29, Aurora Melvin Turner, age 38, Aurora

Those indicted by not yet arrested include:

Christopher Martinez, age 33, Aurora Luis Ramirez, age 25, Thornton Gregory Williams, age 53, Arvada Name Unknown, age and residence unknown

Those already in custody include:

Ricky Kamil Garrison, age 30 James Tillmon, age 30 Robert Painter, age 44

In the second DTO, known as the "Gonzalez-Cepeva/Quintero" Drug Trafficking Organization, a federal grand jury in Denver handed down two additional indictments, unrelated to the Gangster Disciples DTO. In the Gonzalez-Cepeva/Quintero DTO, 33 defendants were named in two separate related indictments on charges ranging from drug trafficking to engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to import various drugs from Mexico, cash smuggling, running a drug controlled premises, possession of a weapon by an illegal alien, possession of a weapon by a felon, interstate transportation in aid of racketeering, and possession of a weapon in connection with a drug trafficking crime. The Gonzalez-Cepeva/Quintero DTO was involved in the possession with intent to distribute, and the distribution of: methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana. The marijuana was allegedly imported to Colorado from California. The Gonzalez-Cepeva/Quintero DTO has individuals with ties to the "211 Crew."

Of the defendants indicted in this case, those arrested today include:

Jose Castaneda-Zamora, age 38, unknown Noe Chavez-Gomez, age 20, unknown Debbi Martinez, age 24, Denver Rafael Quintero Gomez, age 21, unknown Jesus Montelongo-Talavera, age 24, Westminster Alberto Quintero, age 23, Aurora Juan Manuel Quintero, age 22, unknown Racquel Ramos-Sanchez, age 58, San Elizario, Texas Alberto Roel, age 45, Edinburg, Texas Robert Schaffer, age 65, Fort Collins Mark Singer, age 41, Colby, Kansas John Howard Smith, age 55, Denver Jessica Trejo-Huerta, age 23, Mexico Servando Gandara-Chavez, age 43, Denver

Those indicted by not yet arrested include:

Jose Oceguera-Ramirez, age unknown, Mexico Tomas Gonzalez-Villalobos, age 43, Mexico Ramona Haro-Iniquez, age 44, Denver Marcus Marler, age 38, unknown Juan Montelongo, age 25, Westminster Sergio Salazar-Torres, age unknown, Mexico Raul Ramirez-Munoz, age 42, Mexico Hector Jesus Trejo-Huerta, age 27, Mexico

Those already in custody include:

Antonio Gonzalez-Cepeva, age 25 Elias Rafael Gonzalez-Cabrera, age 22 Jesus Quintero, Jr., age 26 Gabriel Sowell, age 38 William Brewer, age 58 Porfiria Alejandra Faias-Contreras, age 24 Maria Farias-Contreras, age 23 Jesus Quintero, Sr., age 46 Carol Hawley, age 45 Gina Salcido, age 42 David Hall, age 56

"Make no mistake: As a result of these raids, Colorado is a safer place," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. "Gangs that traffic in drugs also traffic in violence - whether by intimidation and fear, or by actual force. And while the exact impact these arrests have on the drug trade is difficult to quantify, it is safe to say that the quantity of cocaine, crack, meth and heroin available on the street have been substantially reduced as a result of today's operation."

"Today's operations are yet another illustration of how these criminal organizations will not be allowed to operate with impunity in our communities," said Thomas P. Ravenelle, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Denver Division Field Office.

"Street gangs and drugs are a recipe for a significant percentage of violent crime in cities across the country," said Kumar C. Kibble, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. "The joint investigations we pursue with many of our Denver-area based law enforcement partners target the resources of gangs and drug dealers -- finances, personnel, drugs and guns - to put them out of business."

If convicted, the defendants face penalties ranging from not less than 5 years in federal prison to up to life in federal prison, depending on the count of conviction. The defendants' criminal history, and the type and amount or weight of the drugs being trafficked are factors a judge will consider at sentencing.

The indictments contain an asset forfeiture allegation. The allegation states that upon conviction, the defendants shall forfeit to the United States any and all property, real or personal, involved in such offense, or any property traceable to the crime, such as vehicles or structures, and also including but not limited to a money judgment in the amount of proceeds involved in the offense.

This case was investigated by the Metro Gang Task Force. The Metro Gang Task Force is comprised of the Denver Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Adams County Sheriff's Office, Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, Aurora Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, Commerce City Police Department, Colorado National Guard Counter Drug Unit, Denver District Attorney's Office, Denver Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program (HIDTA), the Lakewood Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff's Office and the Thornton Police Department. Agencies assisting the Metro Gang Task Force include: the Westminster Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the U.S. Marshals Service.

"Gangster Disciples" is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Phillips. "The Gonzalez-Cepeva/Quintero DTO" is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Podolak and Brad Giles.

The charges contained in the four indictments are allegations, and the defendants named in these indictments are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive circa June 2013: "Faces of Meth? Meet Steven Taylor and crew accused of stealing cars for crystal."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts