Informants: Drug ring behind 2 murders
Police informants who kick-started an investigation into a western Colorado drug ring rumored to have operated for a decade claimed the organization was linked to two murders and the recording and sale of child pornography, among other activities, according to thousands of records reviewed by The Daily Sentinel.
The records, including reports to a judge filed by law enforcement, show wiretaps intercepted more than 30,000 phone calls or text messages over four months among 11 targeted cellphones.
In justifying wiretap use, police relied heavily on information provided by three informants in January, including one individual described by police as “genuinely scared” of the organization, who also implicated the group in the killing of two men.
The men, from Gunnison, were reportedly shot in a trip to Denver to obtain methamphetamine or cocaine, the informant told police.
“Two individuals owed money to (organization) had not paid for drugs they had already received,” reads an affidavit in support of wiretap use.
Law enforcement contacted by the Sentinel about the claims declined to comment.
The same informant claimed to have viewed videos showing young girls, some possibly juveniles, having sex with members of the organization, according to the affidavit. The source told police some of the videos were sold online, but didn’t personally know any of the girls. Young girls were said to have been provided drugs for sex.
Informants described a sophisticated network using counter surveillance — all members were said to change cellphones every 30 days — and operating primarily in Grand Junction, Meeker, Rifle and New Castle.
One member of the organization was purported to have “a person inside law enforcement that is capable of finding out information on players in the organization as well as ongoing investigations,” according to the affidavit.
Authorities have alleged Meeker restaurant owner Francisco Peralta-Cabral, 44, known as “Pancho,” was the United States head of an organization importing and selling pounds of methamphetamine and cocaine on a weekly basis. He’s the owner of Los Koros, 173 First St., in Meeker.
According to court records, Peralta-Cabral was twice deported from the U.S. for illegal entry in 2003. Just three days after his first deportation that year, he was contacted by police in Tuscon, Ariz., and arrested and deported for the second time.
One informant told police Peralta-Cabral’s wife was present during an incident at the Meeker restaurant when he “pulled a gun on an employee and forced the employee to do a line of cocaine off the bar.”
Peralta-Cabral’s lieutenants were said to meet weekly at the restaurant to plan shipments, according to the affidavit. The group was believed to be responsible for moving up to “90 bricks” of meth and cocaine — one brick was estimated to be a full or half kilogram — on a monthly basis.
“Peralta is also in charge of several other organizations throughout the western United States,” the document said.
Peralta-Cabral’s teenage son is reportedly heard on one wiretap conversation.
A Meeker police officer one day in January tried contacting Peralta-Cabral after finding the restaurant unlocked and the cash register open. Meeker officer Wes Severson tracked down Peralta-Cabral and nothing was found missing.
“Following the conversation, Peralta provided (a phone number) to Officer Severson to reach him at any time if he found the restaurant unsecure again,” reads the affidavit.
Documents in the case allege the group utilized a series of “stash houses” in Garfield County, to hide drugs or cash, as well as a now-defunct restaurant — renamed “New Castle Investments” at 275 W. Main St., in New Castle — where drugs were prepared for distribution. Members of the group were tracked to the business, where they’re heard on wiretaps talking about drug shipments, according to affidavits.
In announcing the indictments of 36 people on April 25, authorities said nine firearms were seized during the four-month investigation.
One of Peralta-Cabral’s alleged high-ranking lieutenants, Jose Zepeda-Osuna, 34, of Rifle, is heard on a March 26 wiretap conversation talking about ownership of five firearms, including an AK-47 rifle.
He’s also heard discussing potential gun-control legislation and how he enjoys trips to a shooting range.
“Zepeda said the guns is the strength of the United States,” reads a wiretap excerpt.