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2004 National HIDTA Program Award

Rocky Mountain HIDTA - Southern Colorado Task Force - "Operation Forklift"

The Southern Colorado Task Force targeted an organization involved primarily in the distribution of cocaine and money laundering activities by individuals in the Colorado Springs metro area. It is estimated that the organization distributes over 2,000 kilos of cocaine and generates 40 million dollars annually. As the investigation progressed, the documentation and evidence linked this group to a consolidated priority organization target (CPOT) Vicente Carillo- Fuentes.

Southern Colorado Task Force worked this case fulltime for 2 years. They utilized 52 pen registers, 20 Title III intercepts, satellite tracking devices, cell site surveys, aircraft, pole cameras, recruitment of informants and interviews of potential witnesses/defendants. The task force also engaged in thousands of miles of surveillances coordinated with other jurisdictions across the country. Surveillances were successfully supervised, established and maintained to and from Chicago, Illinois, Greensborough, North Carolina and El Paso, Texas. All of the evidence collected on this on-going investigation involved extensive use of the federal grand jury system. Some of the highlights of the investigation included:

• January 2003-Agents seized 265 kilos of cocaine. The controlled delivery to New York resulted in seizing 1.4 million dollars.

• March 2003-Undercover agents purchased a kilo of cocaine from one of the primaries in

Colorado Springs, which resulted in the identification of the ranch where the cocaine was stored.

• May 2003- Agents seized 270 pounds of marijuana, 5 weapons, and $143,000 cash in

Woodland Park, Colorado. • May 2003- Agents seized approximately 2 millions dollars in Pueblo, Colorado. • July 2003- Agents seized $350,000 cash in Chicago Illinois.

• July 2003- Agents seized $700,000 cash in El Paso, Texas. • August 2003- Agents seized 14 kilograms of cocaine and an assault rifle in Pueblo,

Colorado. • September 2003- Agents seized 548 kilograms of cocaine in Chicago, Illinois. • October 2003- Agents seized $1,395,000 cash in New York City.

• October 2003- Agents seized 1 / 2 million dollars cash in New York City. • November 2003- Agents seized $830,000 cash in Greeley, Colorado.

• November 2003-Agents seized 1.7 million dollars cash in Chicago, Illinois. • November 2003-Agents seized $86,552 cash in El Paso, Texas.

• December 2003-Agents seized 125 kilos of cocaine in El Paso, Texas.

As a result of the efforts of the Southern Colorado Task Force and in cooperation with drug law enforcement authorities throughout Colorado, Texas, New York, North Carolina and Illinois, this drug trafficking organization and money laundering group was dismantled in the spring/summer of 2004 with the arrest of 60 members of the organization, seizure of 1,824 kilos of cocaine, 521 pounds of marijuana, and $8,900,000 cash. Three high level members of the Mexican Cartel have been indicted in Colorado. This investigation has also led to “spin off” wire intercepts in three different DEA Divisions.

This is historically one of the most significant investigations ever completed out of the Rocky Mountain region and has had major impact nationwide. The Southern Colorado Drug Task Force felt that the cooperation and coordination nationwide with various HIDTAS, federal authorities, as well as state and local authorities, was tremendous. This case has and will continue to have inflicted a tremendous blow to the Vicente Carillo-Fuentes organization, particularly related to their bulk currency system.

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Last Updated: February 7, 2005