Ten defendants, six from Aspen and four from Los Angeles, were charged in a sealed indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Denver last month; of the ten defendants, nine were arrested May 20, five in Aspen, three in Los Angeles and one in Dallas, without incident; one Los Angeles defendant is a fugitive. The Aspen defendants appeared in U.S. District Court in Denver on May 20.
The Aspen defendants, including three of retirement age, were Joan Anastasi, 67, Joseph James Burke, 63, Jack Fellner, 60, Wayne Alan Reid, 65, Peggy Schlaugher, 41, and Christopher James Sheehan, 65; all six face cocaine trafficking charges.
Over the past year, the group allegedly distributed more than 5 kilograms of cocaine in the Aspen area.
A federal grand jury also indicted Valentin Barrios, 42, Anthony Buchanan, 67, Alfonso Elvao-Allocati, 70, and Jesse Trujillo, 33, all of Los Angeles. Trujillo has not been caught.
The arrests will significantly reduce the supply of cocaine to the Aspen area, US Attorney John Walsh said.
“This operation dealt a significant blow to a major drug trafficking organization with potential ties to the violent cartels that have murdered thousands in Mexico,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin Merrill. “DEA and its partners will continue to attack those drug pushers who threaten our neighborhoods and streets.”
According to the indictment, starting in July 2010 and continuing through April 2011, the ten defendants did knowingly and intentionally conspire with each other and others both known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. The nine count indictment also includes other allegations of cocaine trafficking by the various defendants.
Each defendant faces anywhere from 10 years to life in federal prison, and up to a $10 million fine.
The team of investigators included DEA and Internal Revenue Service agents, Garfield County Sheriff's investigators and police officers from Carbondale, Vail and Rifle.
Ward Churchill Uninvited as Memorial Day Speaker
GRAND JUNCTION – A Grand Junction church that invited fired University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill to speak on Memorial Day has withdrawn that invitation.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Grand Valley told the Daily Sentinel that it did not want to offend military families, by having Churchill speak.
Churchill will now speak at a public park in Grand Junction on Memorial Day, instead.
Churchill was fired from CU in 2007, after allegations of research misconduct, following a university review of his work that he had plagiarized some of his published writings; the review came after Churchill published an essay in which he dubbed some 9/11 victims “little Eichmanns,” in a reference to Nazi SS Lieutenant Colonel and holocaust organizer Adolf Eichmann.
A Denver jury ruled that CU's firing of Churchill was illegal, but he has not been rehired.