Grand Jury Indicts Members of Mexican Cartel Pipeline Responsible for Allegedly Trafficking Large Quantities of Fentanyl, Other Drugs into Adams County
Operation Dress for Less targeted a distribution network that connected a Mexican drug cartel to Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado
November 1, 2023
Brighton, CO —District Attorney Brian Mason and the Drug Trafficking Unit of the Adams County District Attorney's Office, the North Metro Task Force, and the Drug Enforcement Administration Rocky Mountain Field Division are announcing the grand jury indictment of nine members of a Mexican drug cartel who allegedly funneled large quantities of fentanyl, methamphetamines, and cocaine into Adams County, other parts of Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona.
Operation Dress for Less investigated the distribution of fentanyl, methamphetamines, and cocaine between the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico and the greater Adams County area. The North Metro Task Force identified local distributors in Westminster and Federal Heights. Through the course of this operation, the task force uncovered an entire distribution network of co-conspirators that connected Mexico to Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona.
An Adams County Grand Jury indicted nine members of the Sanudo-Rivera Drug Trafficking Organization who allegedly acted as a direct cartel pipeline for the distribution of fentanyl into the greater Adams County area.
In addition to the indictment, a number of seizures occurred as a result of this operation.
84.3 pounds of fentanyl pills (approximately 381,824 pills)
"I created an experienced Drug Trafficking Unit in the District Attorney's Office to take down large-scale drug dealers and break pipelines that feed into our local communities and destroy lives in the process. The joint efforts of the District Attorney's Office, the North Metro Task Force, and the DEA Rocky Mountain Field Division in this investigation truly shows our commitment to dismantling these troublesome and deadly operations. I'm proud of the work of my staff and our partners, and it is encouraging to see it come to fruition through this expansive indictment; however, the work continues and this is just one step in the process of ridding our communities of these drug cartels that do our residents a great deal of harm." District Attorney Brian Mason
“The DEA continues to be laser focused on the Sinaloa Cartel and their network. The significant seizures of fentanyl and methamphetamine made in the Denver-Metro area over the course of this investigation demonstrates the commitment law enforcement in the region has to addressing the problem, but also the influence the cartels have in our communities. The work by the investigators and prosecution team on this case is commendable and will continue.” Acting Special in Charge David Olesky, DEA Rocky Mountain Field Division
“The Detectives and Investigators at North Metro Task Force are deeply driven to dismantle Drug Trafficking Organizations. Especially those criminal organizations whom traffic in Fentanyl. The North Metro Task Force, along with a partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration, intercepted well over 300,000 dosage units of Fentanyl. Our Investigators worked tirelessly on this case, to prevent this number of narcotics from reaching the streets of Adams and Broomfield Counties. I couldn’t be prouder of the work accomplished by the men and women who worked on this case.” Commander John Bitterman, North Metro Task Force/Adams County Sheriff's Office
Photos of the Indicted:
(Beller, Salazar, and Sanudo-Rivera are in custody, the rest remain at-large)
The filing of a criminal charge is merely a formal accusation that an individual(s) committed a crime(s) under Colorado laws. A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. See Colo RPC 3.6.
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District Attorney Mason assumed the oath of office on January 12, 2021. The 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office endeavors to seek justice on behalf of the citizens of Adams and Broomfield counties in felony and misdemeanor cases. DA Mason and his staff are dedicated to transforming the criminal justice system to better serve the citizens of the 17th Judicial District.
Ms. Gazelka is a forensic therapist and clinician in Denver, Colorado. She is currently focused on providing therapy and assessment services to adult offenders in the community corrections and parole systems as a supervisor at Correctional Psychology Associates (CPA). Her education and career have been devoted to the intersection of psychology and law since 2000. Ms. Gazelka has been working within the field of forensic and correctional psychology since 2006, providing therapy in the community and acute mental health care and risk assessments in county jails. She has practiced as a Licensed Professional Counselor since June 2012. She also became a Licensed Addiction Counselor in March 2014. She was listed as a full operating level DVOMB Approved Provider in June 2019 and started a fledgling DV program oriented to Colorado’s Department of Corrections at CPA in September 2019. Ms. Gazelka was appointed to the Domestic Violence Offender Management Board (DVOMB) in March 2019 and has started her second term with the board. Ms. Gazelka has been recognized for her work as Contributor of the Year at CPA in 2010 and 2012, as well as having been awarded an Alumni Impact Award for her forensic work in the community by University of Denver’s GSPP in 2019. Ms. Gazelka received her Master of Arts degree in Forensic Clinical Psychology from University of Denver's Graduate School of Professional Psychology in 2009. Ms. Gazelka also received her Juris Doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law in 2007, obtaining attorney’s licenses in both Minnesota and Colorado (currently inactive).
Alex Castro Croy
Alex Castro Croy is a bilingual, bicultural, Trauma and Addiction Counselor and owner/Lead Clinician of Life Recovery Centers in Denver and Northglenn Colorado.
A first-generation immigrant from Mexico who accomplished his dream in higher education receiving an AA in Pastoral Ministry (Dallas, Texas), Bachelor of Science in Human Services (MSU in Denver, Colorado) and MA in Community Counseling from Regis University (Denver, Co). He is continuing to pursue his MA/Ph.D. from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Jungian and Archetypal Studies.
Alex’s passion includes training, teaching, counseling, and consulting. He has been an Adjunct Professor for the Human Services Department at MSU-Denver for 9 years. He has served as an Interventionist for the Latino GLBTQ community, Drug Court Probation Officer at Denver Juvenile Court Probation (8 years), Bilingual Diversion Officer for Denver DA office (5 years), and currently owner and director of Life Recovery Centers (7 years). He has worked with a variety of clients from all walks of life and his eclectic therapeutic interventions have proven to be effective in treating trauma and addiction.
Thea Wessel is an addictions counselor with a private practice in Colorado. She has been working in the criminal and addiction fields for thirteen years. Ms. Wessel earned her Masters in forensic psychology from the University of Denver and has her LPC, LAC, MAC, NCAAC, and ADS. She is working towards her Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Ms. Wessel continually challenges herself and others to provide quality addiction treatment and ways to continue to educate the community about addiction issues.