On Tuesday March 18, Task Force Director Pat Downs and La Plata County, Colorado Sheriff Duke Schirard announced the results of an ongoing investigation by the Southwest Drug Task Force which has thus far resulted in the arrest of 14 individuals, according to the Durango Herald. Authorities believe the group may have connections to Mexican drug cartels.
So far in the investigation, which has taken investigators to Las Vegas and California, three woman and 11 mean have been arrested over a 45-day time period. News reports indicate nine of those individuals are from Durango or Bayfield. The 14 who have been arrested thus far range in age from 19 to 58.
Authorities have so far uncovered storage units containing firearms with serial numbers removed and other stolen goods, $10,000 in cash, and 10 pounds of methamphetamine. Investigators anticipate more people will be arrested for their involvement in the operation, which allegedly moves large amounts of meth produced in Mexico through southwestern cities in the U.S. and on to Durango.
Joseph Fitapelli, 55, who is believed to be the king pin of the organization, was involved in a traffic stop which led to his arrest after authorities found between $8,000 and $10,000 in his vehicle. While the arrests will give authorities a “breather” and result in a reduced crime rate for a time, Downs and Schirard said “the calm won’t last forever.” The two believe that new dealers will step up to fill the void left by the arrests.
Some of the 14 people arrested include a mother and daughter, boyfriend and girlfriend, and two brothers, according to the news article.
There is no doubt the individuals who are arrested in this drug bust will face serious criminal penalties. In Michigan, those found guilty of possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute, sell, or deliver face penalties which include a fine of up to $25,000 along with up to 20 years in prison. In addition, when it is found that firearms are involved, the individual has a prior drug conviction, or that drug activity occurred within close proximity of a school or park, the punishment will be even more severe.
It is critical that anyone who has been arrested or charged, or who is under investigation for trafficking methamphetamine or other illegal narcotic drugs contact an aggressive and skilled Michigan drug crime attorney immediately. Your freedom, reputation, and future are at stake; your lawyer will work diligently to ensure the best possible outcome, helping you avoid a conviction and the resulting consequences when possible.