Drug Trafficking Kingpins Sentenced in Colorado

Two drug trafficking kingpins were sentenced in Colorado in the beginning of April. Jose Kimenez Chacon and Conrado Areliano-Casas were each sentenced to 20 years in prison for drug trafficking. These two ringleaders were among 19 arrested in this drug cartel ring last year by the West Metro Drug Task Force and US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) (Denver Post, April 2012).

Jose Kimenez Chacon and Conrado Areliano-Cases were accused of trafficking large amounts of marijuana from Mexico to Commerce City. In an 11 month period, they smuggled 45,000 pounds of marijuana to the United States (an estimated value of $36 million) using tour buses. The marijuana was compressed into bricks and hidden in installed compartments underneath the buses. Typically each tour bus would smuggle 400 pounds of marijuana.

Photo: Denver Post & Jeffco DA

In addition to the marijuana, officials seized $134,000 in cash, 14 vehicles, seven firearms, two kilograms of cocaine, and 53 grams of methamphetamine during the arrests last year. Officials estimate that 75% of the marijuana which was brought into Colorado was sold and distributed within the state (Denver Post, April 2012).

Despite these arrests, these two ‘kingpins’ will be replaced quickly.

The illegal drug market’s profitability attracts people like moths to a flame. Efforts to criminalize drugs and attempts to stop drugs from being smuggling across the US borders may have some wins, but this does not outweigh the booming illegal drug trade that brings thousands of pounds of drugs across US borders every year.

Drug trafficking is not waning as much as officials would like to see.

The drug trade is so robust that it is impossible to simply eliminate a couple targets and expect it to have a permanent effect on the market. With marijuana in such high demand and consistently providing sustainable profit, drug traffickers become more and more creative with their smuggling tactics to make sure they deliver. Some run tunnels under the Mexico-US border; others use drug mules and motor vehicles to get their product across the border hoping they don’t get stopped by Border Patrol. Many will even take the risk of pushing their drugs across the border with people and cars/trucks/buses because the risk is worth the reward. Even if 1-5% of their product gets caught at the border, they are still making a massive profit by getting the other 95-99% to American soil.

Though the arrests are considered a major success, there are many more in line behind these two. A couple heads of the snake may have been cut off with these arrests in Colorado, but we can expect more to pop up in its place within mere moments.

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