Woman who ran meth ring gets 14 years

Michelle Ortiz-Ramirez

When she was arrested last year, Michelle Ortiz-Ramirez seemed “relieved,” a prosecutor said Friday.

“I think she’d realized she was way in over her head by that point,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said.

Ortiz-Ramirez, 36, who authorities say ran a network of 16 dealers in what was one of the two largest methamphetamine-distribution organizations in the Grand Valley, was sentenced Friday by District Judge Brian Flynn to serve 14 years in prison. Ortiz-Ramirez pleaded guilty earlier this year to distribution of meth.

Rubinstein said an investigation of Ortiz-Ramirez’s organization showed it was dealing roughly two to eight pounds of the drug per week in the Grand Valley before the group’s members were arrested in June 2010.

Rubinstein said Ortiz-Ramirez was supplied by her brother-in-law, Chermaria Gonzalez-Hernandez, 29, of Denver, who told local authorities after his arrest that the local organization was sending $300,000 per month in profit to a drug cartel in Mexico.

The claim never was verified, Rubinstein said.

Ortiz-Ramirez became the focus of an investigation in December 2009, following the arrests of three people who worked under her, Rubinstein said.

Authorities largely relied on wiretaps to build criminal cases against Ortiz-Ramirez and others.

Interviewed after her arrest, Ortiz-Ramirez claimed she wanted out of the business by the spring of 2010 and was in debt to the tune of $60,000 to $80,000 to a Mexican drug cartel, Rubinstein said. She said the cartel offered to settle the debt and let her out of the business in exchange for “selling” her daughter to them.

Ortiz-Ramirez was offered the plea agreement because of her cooperation with the investigation, Rubinstein said.

To date, 13 of the 16 people accused of involvement in the group have been sentenced to prison, the prosecutor said.

Two were sentenced to probation or community corrections, while Ortiz-Ramirez has agreed to testify in an upcoming trial for the lone alleged member to plead not guilty.


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