Seven people have been arrested on charges of trafficking cocaine in Durango after a 10-month investigation.
Law-enforcement agents in November seized more than a kilogram of cocaine and about $25,000 in drug-related assets, according to a news release Wednesday from the U.S. Attorneys Office. The six men and one woman are all in the country illegally, the release said.
The joint investigation began in January and included the Southwest Drug Task Force, Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Court documents show that the seven people are accused of belonging to an organization bringing significant quantities of cocaine into Durango from New Mexico and Arizona.
Three people are being charged at the state level with distribution of a controlled substance and will appear in 6th Judicial Court for preliminary hearings in January. They are Durango residents Sergio Curiel-Romero, 24; Luis Giron-Villalta, 28; and Noe Robles-Barron, 25. All three are Mexican nationals.
Robles-Barron bonded out. The other two are being held at the La Plata County Jail.
Investigator Mike Brown with the Southwest Drug Task Force said their alleged crimes did not fall within the guidelines of conspiracy to distribute, which would have made their charges federal crimes.
Four people are being held in federal custody without bond. They are Rogelio Lariz-Luna, 43, of Durango; Jose Mendoza-Lariz, 18, of Phoenix; and Irma Garcia, 31, and Heraclio Rubio-Sesma, 35, both of Farmington. Their countries of origin were not released.
Lariz-Luna and Mendoza-Lariz face charges of intent to distribute and conspiracy with others to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine, which carries a penalty of not more than 20 years in a federal prison and up to a $1 million fine.
Lariz-Luna, Garcia and Rubio-Sesma are facing charges of distributing and intending to distribute cocaine, which carry penalties ranging from not less than five and not more than 40 years of imprisonment and fines up to $2 million.
In addition to the drug charges, Rubio-Sesma allegedly unlawfully re-entered the U.S. after deportation. He has a previous conviction for unlawful entry. The penalty for re-entering the United States unlawfully after a felony conviction is not more than 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
Jeffrey Dorschner, the public affairs officer of the U.S. Attorneys Office for Colorado, said no decision has been made about if the federal trial will be held in Denver or Durango. The tentative trial date is Feb. 14.