By Gene Davis, DENVER DAILY NEWS
A coalition of law enforcement groups seemingly hit a home run by busting an assistant baseball coach at Regis University, a retired Denver firefighter and 33 other people who were allegedly part of a gang-fueled cocaine trafficking organization.
U.S. Attorney John Walsh announced yesterday that law enforcement officers on Friday arrested 28 of the suspects without incident. The charges allege that the suspects — which also include people with ties to a Mexican drug cartel and local street gang members — were part of an organization that brought nearly 45 pounds of cocaine to the Denver area every week for local distribution
“I would characterize it as one of the most successful operations in recent years,” said Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh of the bust.
The cocaine trafficking bust originated with an investigation into the Denver Tre Deuce Gangster Crips. That investigation led to local wholesale cocaine dealers and suppliers with contacts to one of the more prominent Juarez drug cartels. According to the indictments, the cocaine was transported in secret panel in cars that came up I-25 from Mexico via El Paso.
During the investigation, agents and officers seized 53 kilograms of cocaine, 35 pounds of marijuana, more than $650,000 in cash, nine firearms and 15 vehicles. Agents and officers seized $500,000 of the cash from one defendant’s home and $122,000 from a car stop in Downtown Denver.
The Metro Gang Task Force — a wide coalition of more than 10 local law enforcement groups — was responsible for the bust. The group was praised yesterday as one of the most prolific and effective task forces in operation.
“This is not a good place to do business, they need to do their business elsewhere, because these guys will track them down and put them away.” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jim Davis of drug dealers.
While many of the defendants have ties to gangs or drug cartels, others like Ronald Rocha — an assistant baseball coach at Regis University who helps players with drills — or David Cordova — a retired firefighter — show the wide-ranging scope of the alleged trafficking group.
Jeremy Phillips, sports information director for Regis University, confirmed that Rocha is an assistant coach with Regis who helps with on-field instruction. Regis University runs background checks on all coaches, he said. Regis is a private Catholic university with a mission to “provide value-centered undergraduate and graduate education.”
“We don’t know anything about this,” Phillips said.
All of the suspects are facing a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $4 million fine. Six suspects are currently at large.