Seventeen men and women have been accused of breaking bad in the Mile High State as Colorado law enforcement, in partnership with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, brought an indictment down Monday on a crystal meth drug ring they say operated from a taco truck on the streets of Denver.
“The brazenness of this ring was astounding,” said Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. “For example, customers could literally walk up to a food truck and order a side of meth with their taco.”
Customers would place these special orders from the truck using code words such as “six pack” and “yellow cups,” documents allege.
The indictment names Juan Carlos Gonzalez as the kingpin of the organization. He allegedly coordinated the import of meth and cocaine into Colorado, and used his BMW as headquarters for distribution. Prosecutors say Gonzalez kept his business close in the family; his aunts Monica and Luz Gonzalez served as his primary distributors, the indictment contends. Maria Arellano is accused of peddling crystal meth from the taco truck at 8th and Federal avenues, where she worked.
Oscar Ruvalcaba is accused of ferrying methamphetamine from Mexico to California and across state borders into Colorado. According to the indictment, approximately 40 pounds of the drug were allegedly hidden beneath the floorboards of his red Mini Cooper.
Another 15 pounds were found in a storage locker rented by Juan Carlos Gonzalez.
The street value of 55 pounds of meth could run between $740,000 and $990,000 in Colorado, according to the attorney general’s office. Prosecutors say the stash is one of the “largest single incidents of methamphetamine seizure by law enforcement in state history.”
The attorney general’s office deemed the owner of the taco truck oblivious to all illicit operations under his roof. The truck has been allowed to continue operations.
Dubbed “Operation Cargo,” the takedown involved a complex trap of wiretaps conducted over five weeks. In addition to “record amounts of crystal methamphetamine,” agents also recovered guns and cash in the sting.
All in all, the charges in the 64-count indictment include multiple violations of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, conspiracy, racketeering, money laundering, and tax evasion.
All but two of the 17 accused are currently in custody. As of Wednesday, police say both Patrick Lorenzo and James Loeffler, charged with possession and conspiracy, respectively, remain at large. Anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of either suspect should call the DEA at 720-895-4139.