By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Superman would travel faster than a speeding bullet to dismantle this north metro methamphetamine drug ring accused of using women as mules and comic books to launder money.
The operation is said to have been worth more than $2 million in meth distribution throughout the Denver area.
Police this month took down the 41-person drug ring, accused of distributing as much as 100,000 doses of meth each month, or about 25 pounds. A state grand jury handed down the 145-count indictment last week, but authorities did not announce details of the year-long undercover operation until Monday.
Nineteen of the suspects are accused of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act.
The majority of the suspects are charged with possession and intent-to-distribute, but many charged under the Organized Crime Control Act face conspiracy and racketeering charges as well.
All 41 suspects are U.S. citizens except for one who is a Mexican national, said officials.
“The dismantling of this methamphetamine ring is a significant victory for the people of Colorado,” said Attorney General John Suthers, who added that meth fuels a large portion of crime across the state, including around two-thirds of identity thefts.
The two alleged kingpins were brothers — 29-year-old Aaron Noah Castro, of Commerce City, and 30-year-old Alfonzo Elias Castro, of Denver, said Suthers. They are being held in the Adams County jail on $1 million bond each.
Adams County District Attorney Don Quick — who is leading the prosecution — said the two brothers used classic comic books — some worth as much as $3,500 — to launder the constant stream of drug money.
In a scene that seemingly could only be played out in Gotham City, the ringleaders purchased and sold expensive first edition “Superman” and “Batman” comic books to launder the money, though Quick said it appeared the brothers were looking to start a collector comic book business.
Police seized about $500,000 worth of the first edition publications when more than 200 officers were involved in arresting the Castro brothers and their associates.
The massive enterprise used women as drug mules; the women would stash the drugs in their vaginal cavities and then distribute it around the metro area, mostly in the north metro area.
“They were working in the neighborhoods we all live in — I’m happy they’re out of there,” said Quick.
An associate named Juan Conrad Velazquez, 30, of Commerce City, was hired to collect money that was owed to the enterprise, according to the indictment.
“Juan Velazquez utilized threats and coercive behaviors to collect money owed to the organization and to motivate Aaron Castro’s runners to distribute methamphetamine,” states the court document.
The product would come from as far south as Mexico and make its way into the Denver area.
“Methamphetamine production and use continues to be a problem,” said Quick. “But arrests such as these make a significant impact on local distribution.”
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters