Meth profit put at $300,000 monthly

Top row, left to right: Cassandra Britton, Chelsea Crow, Bennie Ortiz, Chemaria Gonzalez-Hernandez, Cesar Javier Haro.
Middle row: Marilyn Lee Haro, Maria Ann Quezada, Dawn Ortiz-Ramirez, Michael Dupont, James Rudder.
Bottom row: Ruben Almeida, Tammy Almeida, Ramie Eslinger, William Conn, Michael Inzuza

A local organization with ties to Denver and Mexico pumped up to 5 pounds of methamphetamine into the Grand Valley on a weekly basis, while returning $300,000 per month in profits to Mexico, a prosecutor told a judge Wednesday.

Dawn Michelle Ortiz-Ramirez, 35, 662 Crossing St., is being held on $500,000 bond at the Mesa County Jail on suspicion of conspiracy, distribution of a controlled substance and sentence-enhancing special-offender charges. Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said Ortiz-Ramirez headed up a local network of dealers, collectors and runners, while personally earning between $5,000 and $10,000 weekly from the business.

Ortiz-Ramirez used a young child on at least one occasion to move drugs, the prosecutor alleged.

Rubinstein told the judge Ortiz-Ramirez had received a new shipment of methamphetamine earlier this week from her brother-in-law, Chemaria Gonzalez-Hernandez, 28, of Denver, who was arrested Monday while driving away from Grand Junction on Interstate 70.

A portion of profits from the group was shipped back to Mexico by Gonzalez-Hernandez, the prosecutor alleged, although he declined to specify who was the supplier in Mexico.

Rubinstein said Ortiz-Ramirez owns a second home in the Sinaloa region of Mexico, which includes the popular tourist destination of Mazatlan.

Gonzalez-Hernandez is being held on $50,000 bond on suspicion of conspiracy, distribution of a controlled substance and special-offender charges. He also has a federal immigration hold, which prevents his release from jail.

The Western Colorado Drug Task Force on Wednesday announced the arrests of 15 people, including Gonzalez-Hernandez; the remaining 14, including Ortiz-Ramirez, were taken into custody early Tuesday after eight search warrants were executed across Mesa County. As of Wednesday afternoon, one person connected to the group remained wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant, Rubinstein said.

Arrest and search-warrant affidavits were filed under seal in the investigation, which started in December.

Rubinstein, who made bond arguments Wednesday to County Court Judge Gretchen Larson, told the judge a home owned by Ruben and Tammy Almeida, 1815 Orchard Ave., formerly had been a “stash house,” where drugs were kept by the organization. Officers found a loaded handgun under Ruben Almeida’s bedroom pillow when they arrested him Tuesday morning, the prosecutor said. Ruben Almeida was ordered held on $250,000 bond.

Rubinstein told the judge the organization more recently had been stashing its supply at the home of Michael Anthony Dupont, 27, 1150 Santa Clara Ave. The prosecutor said that when Dupont made a phone call from the Mesa County Jail after his arrest, he told another person he wouldn’t tell law enforcement where he keeps the group’s drugs “unless I get a deal.”

When he discussed that location with another person, he added, “That’s my money to hire an attorney,” the prosecutor alleged.

Others who proesectors allege are connected to the group are:

Maria Ann Quezada, 26, and Chelsie Crow, 18, who were arrested early Tuesday at 662 Crossing St. on suspicion of offenses ranging from simple possession to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and complicity. The property is owned by Ortiz-Ramirez, who also was arrested there.

Cassandra Lynn Britton, 26, and James Rudder, 23, who were arrested at 2814 N. Niagara Circle on suspicion of conspiracy to distribute and special-offender charges.

Ramie Lynn Eslinger, 34, and William Conn, 40, who were arrested at 423B Chipeta Ave., on similar charges to Britton and Rudder. Conn also was booked on suspicion of a parole violation and possession of a firearm by a previous offender.

Bennie Joe Ortiz, 46, who was arrested at 307 Cherry Lane on suspicion of conspiracy to distribute, among other charges.

Michael Pauel Inzunza, 18, who was arrested at 3318 Four Star Court; and husband and wife, Marilyn Lee Haro, 39, and Cesar Lee Haro, 40, who were arrested at 1018 U.S. Highway 6&50, Unit 94, on suspicion of charges ranging from conspiracy to distribute to complicity.

Rubinstein said Inzunza was serving juvenile probation, wearing an ankle monitor during recent months. Rubinstein alledged that Inzunza was dealing ounce quantities of meth on a daily basis.


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