Adams County COCCA Arrest Nabs Sixteen

After ten months of undercover investigation, the DEA, Front Range Drug Task force, and local law enforcement seized $30,000 in cash, more than a half-pound of cocaine, various weapons and numerous prescription drugs after searching homes in Arvada, Commerce City, Lakewood, and Thornton.

As a result of Thursday’s sting operation, the Adams County District Attorney’s office charged sixteen individuals with multiple drug and conspiracy charges. Three individuals have been charged in violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA), for alleged racketeering and operating a criminal enterprise. The remaining people were charged with various felony drug sale and possession charges.

According to the Denver Post all three COCCA defendants are in custody but police are still searching for a fourth suspect. Cynthia Orozco, of Commerce City; and Arturo Valenzuela, of Thornton are in custody on a $250,000 bond, while Carlo A. Nieto, of Lakewood is being held on a $25,000 bond.

Modeled after the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), COCCA charges are often filed in large drug operations, financial fraud cases, and child prostitution cases. To be convicted of a COCCA offense the prosecution must prove that the defendant unlawfully participated – directly or indirectly – in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity.

Under Colorado law, COCCA cases carry enhanced sentences well beyond the normal sentence for simple drug conspiracy charges. Categorized as Class 2 felonies, COCCA cases have a presumptive sentence ranging from 8 to 24 years in prison. This means that anyone accused of these cases is facing serious prison sentences.

In recent years the Adams County District Attorney’s office has filed COCCA charges on hundreds of Colorado residents. As a part of the local “war on drugs” Denver County, Weld County, and El Paso county have also prosecuted dozens of individuals for their alleged conspiracy and racketeering behavior.