Addicts will pay for meth ring breakup

The price of increasingly expensive methamphetamine will go even higher in Mesa County with the breakup of a massive meth operation in Denver, law enforcement officials say.

The higher price for meth because of a sudden decrease in supply — however brief — is a measure of success for Jim Schrant, resident agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration office in Grand Junction.

“I can remember doing investigations for $6,000 to $8,000 per pound (meth) in the early 2000s,” Schrant said.

Meth prices statewide have nearly tripled since, according to data released in June by the U.S. Department of Justice.

A pound of meth in Colorado was selling for roughly $19,000 to $20,000 by the end of 2008, according to ihe National Illicit Drug Price report. At the end of 2006, the same quantity sold for $9,000 to $13,000.

“Whenever our partners elsewhere in the state break up a large distribution network, it decreases supplies statewide, increases prices and even causes otherwise undetected networks to shut down for a period while they assess risks,” said Dan Rubinstein,  chief deputy district attorney for Mesa County, who leads drug prosecutions. “We always hope to capitalize on these times of low supply to boost our treatment and prevention efforts.”

Denver authorities last week announced indictments against 41 people suspected of dealing up to 100,000 doses of meth per month. The organization, they said, has links to Mexican drug cartels.

The accused kingpins, Alfonzo Castro, 32, of Denver and Aaron Castro, 29, of Commerce City, are accused of using women as drug couriers, hiding drugs in their body cavities, and buying up hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of comic books to hide drug profits.

Schrant suspects the Castros were using Interstate 70 to move their product. The indictment alleges the group brought pounds of the drug monthly into Colorado from Phoenix.

Although Schrant said he isn’t aware of any direct local connection to the organization, he suspects he’s familiar with who was calling the shots.

“We’ve had substantial investigations here where the local operators are being told very precisely what to do by cartel heads in Mexico,” Schrant said.


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