From the alleged primary supplier in the Denver area to the local heroin and cocaine dealers in Grand Junction, an extensive drug investigation by the Western Colorado Drug Task Force resulted in multiple arrests, thwarting what police described as a "drug trafficking organization."
"These investigations continue after arrests are made because we will make efforts to interview those arrested and identify any conspirators," 21st Judicial District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said. "As the investigation unfolds there may be more arrests."
Several of the suspects and alleged co-conspirators in the drug distribution network were arraigned in Mesa County Court this week, with Elmer Navarro-Navarro (AKA Martin Navarro-Acosta), the alleged primary courier to local customers, receiving the highest bond thus far at $250,000.
Other accused co-conspirators and low-level dealers appeared in court this week, many visibly distraught by the allegations and bond amount they received and many defended by family.
"A lot of people charged with these offenses are not evil people," Judge Craig Henderson said after an emotional plea during one of the named suspects's arraignment hearing. But these substances are dangerous and cause damage to our community, Henderson added.
The alleged source of supply for the organization, Jorge Alberto Melendez, AKA "Christian," was arrested on the Front Range and is in the process of being transferred to Mesa County.
Confidential informants, phone records and wiretaps were among the tools used to link Christian to Navarro and other suspected dealers, according to the arrest affidavit.
In July 2018, investigators with the Drug Task Force received a tip regarding a source of supply of heroin and cocaine identified only as "Christian."
During the course of the investigation, numerous phone calls and text messages were intercepted, which police believe indicated ongoing drug dealing in the community, according to the arrest affidavit.
Christian was suspected to be a primary local source of heroin and cocaine. He orchestrated the delivery of distribution quantities into the Grand Junction area, the affidavit said.
Intercepted phone records and wire communication between Christian and others were key in helping investigators build their case.
Through the course of the investigation, police laid out the general operation they believed the drug organization was conducting.
In summation, a customer would call Christian to order illegal drugs, who would then call Navarro on his second phone to give him instructions as to where to deliver the illegal drugs and whether they were purchasing heroin or cocaine, according to the affidavit.
"Couriers" that police allege were used to deliver the heroin and cocaine were also investigated and arrested.
Through a confidential informant, a "controlled buy" was set up with Christian, where he allegedly sold 29 grams of heroin and 5 grams of cocaine, according to the affidavit.
Others arrested and arraigned this week as part of the investigation included Sterling Pinnt, Brianca Sutton, Gary Harvey, Robert Carr, Adam Ivie and Ryan Boylan.