Police say seven arrested from gang
Seven people accused of crimes ranging from drug importation or sale, burglary and extortion are allegedly tied to a local gang that has been under investigation since last summer, according to a Mesa County prosecutor.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein on Friday said law enforcement raids at a pair of Grand Junction homes early Thursday “severely disrupted” the workings of what he called the Hawthorne Park gang, and more arrests are likely.
“This is not all of them,” Rubinstein said.
The seven arrests — the product of cooperation between the Grand Junction Police Department, Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, Western Colorado Joint Drug Task Force and the District Attorney’s Office — account for most of the leadership of the alleged group, according to the prosecutor.
Rubinstein declined to discuss what authorities believe to be the structure or scope of the organization, while court files explaining law enforcement’s factual basis for arresting all seven are sealed.
Arrest and search warrant affidavits were filed under seal for Jeremiah Ray Carey, 18, Matthew Don Carey, 20, Andrew John Martinez, 21, Kari Mae Johnson, 20, Amadeo Sean Coria, 19, Nicholas Ryan Diaz, 19, and Derek Preston Paiz, 20.
Deputy District Attorney Richard Brown said during a bond hearing that Johnson was an alleged source for the gang for Ecstasy, personally importing the drug into Colorado.
She’s being held at the Mesa County Jail on $225,000 bond.
Martinez, half brother of Matthew and Jeremiah Carey, allegedly sold the same drugs on at least one occasion while Martinez was within 1,000 feet of Lincoln Park Elementary School, Brown told the judge.
Several are accused of selling marijuana or imitation Oxycodone to confidential informants, Brown said.
Paiz allegedly sold a fake substitute of Oxycodone, which turned out to be allergy medicine, the prosecutor said. On another occasion, Paiz allegedly robbed real Oxycodone from another person and tried to resell it.
“He obtained it by taking it at knife point,” Brown told the judge.
Paiz, who appeared in court Friday via video from the jail, was perplexed about why he was just now being arrested for something he said happened eight months ago.
“I have a baby girl on the way, and I’ve changed my life completely since then,” Paiz told County Court Judge Arthur Smith.
He was ordered held on bonds totalling $21,000.
Coria, meanwhile, faces a possible theft charge for allegedly stealing marijuana from another person, Brown said.
Between the seven, Smith on Friday spent roughly an hour advising each on 21 combined felony cases. The parade of defendants in Smith’s courtroom raised concerns from officials at the Mesa County Jail when the judge issued restraining orders against any of the seven having contact with one another.
Steve Farlow, a captain with the Sheriff’s Department in charge of jail operations, told the judge the orders were impossible to enforce in the short term.
“The physical design of this facility does not allow us to do this,” Farlow told Smith.