The leader of an organized crime ring in the Four Corners was sentenced Friday to 24 years in prison.In a plea deal with the Colorado Attorney General's Office, David Torrez, 61, of Fruitland, N.M., pleaded guilty to violating Colorado's Organized Crime Control Act, vehicular theft and distribution of methamphetamine.
Torrez was part of a crime ring in which participants stole trucks and drove them to New Mexico to be painted and stripped of decals to be sold for meth. Torrez ordered certain vehicles to be stolen and was the primary meth dealer, said Janet Drake, a senior assistant with the Colorado Attorney General's Office.
"He was really the lead guy who was giving directions to steal motor vehicles," Drake said during Friday's plea and sentencing hearing in District Court in La Plata County. The criminal enterprise operated from Aug. 1, 2004, until Feb. 1, 2006, in the Four Corners.
In July 2006, a state grand jury indicted Torrez and 19 others involved in the crime ring.
Torrez's case was the last to be adjudicated or dismissed.
In February, Jaydee Russell of Bloomfield, N.M., was sentenced to 96 years in prison - more than any other defendant. The stiff sentence was because Russell lost at trial, he was a repeat offender and state sentencing guidelines stipulated that he be sentenced to four times the maximum range for new offenses.
Before entering the plea agreement, Torrez faced 12 felonies: violating Colorado's Organized Crime Control Act (one count), motor vehicle theft (five), burglary (one), tampering with evidence (one), possession of meth (one), distribution (one) and conspiracy to distribute (two).
Despite pleading guilty, Torrez maintained his innocence but acknowledged the prosecutor had sufficient evidence to convict him during a trial.
"My biggest guilt was association by people," he said before leaving the courtroom.