Pubdate: Fri,  1 Nov 2002
Source: Pueblo Chieftain (CO)
Copyright: 2002 The Star-Journal Publishing Corp.
Author: Patrick Malone


A 15-month investigation into Pueblo's gang-related drug and weapons trades 
netted 38 arrests during a massive citywide sting on Tuesday.

Eleven more suspects are being sought.

Agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Pueblo 
police SWAT teams knocked down doors and rounded up suspects wanted on 
state and federal charges in what investigators dubbed Operation Trident.

Eleven illegal weapons and an undisclosed amount of illegal drugs were 
seized in the raids. Sawed-off shotguns and a rifle equipped with a 
silencer were among weapons recovered.

Two no-knock warrants in Bessemer kicked off Tuesday's busts targeting gang 
members suspected of selling drugs and guns.

"We called it Operation Trident because of the three prongs of guns, gangs 
and drugs," said Pueblo Police Chief Jim Billings at the scene of the 
second raid. "The three go hand-in-hand."

The day's roundup began with a bang. At 8:14 a.m., Pueblo police backed up 
by ATF agents entered a home at 1104 E. Routt Ave. and arrested 24-year-old 
Jose Raul Lopez and Carl Eugene Quintana, 23.

Both men were arrested on state warrants for distribution of cocaine. Lopez 
is a known member of the Bessemer Spruce Locos street gang, according to 
Pueblo police Detective Charlie Taylor, who along with Detective Chris 
Noeller spearheaded the investigation that culminated in Tuesday's sting.

At the rear entrance of the house, a pit bull charged SWAT officers and was 
shot dead, according to police at the scene. About 2 1/2 minutes after 
officers forced their way through the front door, Lopez and Quintana were 
loaded into a waiting van and taken away by sheriff's deputies on their way 
to Pueblo County Jail. First, the suspects were interviewed by ATF agents 
at the police station.

Outside the house - located just across the street and down the block from 
Bessemer Academy - signs of the children who live there were apparent. A 
swing set and several strollers littered the yard.

Two women and several young children were inside the residence during the 
raid. They were upstairs. The suspects were found in the basement of the 
house, according to Pueblo police Capt. John Barger.

Twenty minutes after the first advance, a second no-knock warrant was 
served at an unassuming house located at 2509 E. Routt Ave. There, officers 
used a battering ram on the front door and deployed a flash grenade inside 
to distract the occupants.

They emerged less than two minutes later with Bernard Florentino Gonzales, 
36, a known affiliate of the Bessemer Street Locos, in custody on a federal 
warrant for illegal weapons possession and state charges of cocaine 

He resisted arrest and was stunned with a Taser by members of the Pueblo 
police SWAT team, according to officers at the scene. Two women and one man 
also were at the residence. One of the women and the second man both were 
arrested on a local traffic warrants.

The long process leading up to Tuesday's arrests began in August 2001 with 
police officers gathering intelligence about the gang-related drug trade in 
Pueblo. In time, investigators learned that many of the same dealers who 
were selling drugs to undercover officers also offered weapons, according 
to Billings.

As the investigation progressed, the ATF was able to link Pueblo's illegal 
gun connections to crimes and gun thefts throughout Colorado.

"This seemed to be the epicenter of where the guns were being sold," said 
ATF agent Rich Marianos.

Billings said the lengthy investigation was necessary to link key players 
in Pueblo's drug and gun rings to criminal activity. Deputy Chief John 
Ercul said the conclusion of the investigation came at the right time.

"If the investigation had gone on much longer, someone might have suspected 
something and caught on," Ercul said.

Confidential informants and undercover officers played crucial roles in 
infiltrating the suspected criminal rings, he said.

Their work led to indictments in U.S. District Court last week against 
Gonzales, Michael Anthony Scanlon, 39, and Richard Michael Shadblot, 29. 
All three men were arrested Tuesday on federal weapons charges along with 
Jerry Dewayne Grady, 58. The other 34 suspects arrested on Tuesday were 
wanted on state drug charges.

The tandem effort of the Pueblo Police Department and the ATF paved the way 
for placement of a permanent ATF agent in Pueblo and a $10,000 federal 
grant to combat illegal gun sales in Pueblo.

Billings said the resources are needed.

"We think that we definitely did get some (gang) leaders," he said. "But by 
no means is our work done here."

Caught in the net Operation Trident targeting suspected gang-related drug 
and gun dealers resulted in 38 arrests in Pueblo on Tuesday. Eleven more 
suspects are being sought.

The following suspects were arrested in the roundup:

- - Charles Herman Archuleta, 23.

- - Glen Peter Arellano, 42.

- - Rodney Aaron Arellano, 37.

- - Juan Campos, 30.

- - Caroline Ernestina Cervantes, 38.

- - Dennis Duane Childress, 42.

- - Leroy Marcus "Captain" Devan, 24.

- - Russell Alan Donovan, 43.

- - Michael L. Ervin, 37.

- - Kenneth Brian Farmer, 22.

- - Emiliano Francisco Gabaldon, 29.

- - Albert Jay Garcia, 22.

- - Bernard Kenneth Gonzales, 36.

- - Emilia Gonzales, 53.

- - Phyllis Emily Gonzales, 19.

- - Jerry Dewayne Grady, 58.

- - Shelly S. Haight, 33.

- - Paul Francisco Jimenez, 47.

- - Juvenile: Name not released.

- - Robin Lee Leland, 38.

- - Danny James Lewis, 56.

- - Anthony George Licon, 37.

- - Jose Raul Lopez, 24.

- - Ernest Ruben Maes, 41.

- - John Michael Martinez, 22.

- - Filipo Miceli, 45.

- - Barbara Renee Padilla, 35.

- - Brian Sean Perkins, 38.

- - Carl Eugene Quintana, 23.

- - Christopher Ruff, 22.

- - Daniel Lee Salazar, 27.

- - Michael Anthony Scanlon, 39.

- - Richard Michael Shadbolt, 29.

- - Albert Floyd Short, 38.

- - John Ralph Titman, 48.

- - Ronald Wayne Torres, 40.

- - Anthony George Wantuck, 38.

- - Ricky Williams, 49.

Suspects wanted in connection with Tuesday's sting who are still at-large are:

- - Rachel M. Algeine, 24.

- - Diana Mae Becerra, 40.

- - Travis David Bob, 24.

- - Edward "Eddie" "Tunky" Jose Gonzales, 24.

- - Ernest "Archie" Kenneth Gonzales, 37.

- - Robert Funston Hildebrand, 36.

- - Valerie Martinez, 33.

- - Perfecto Arturo Rincon, 29.

- - Abraham "Abe" Isadore Salazar, 24.

- - George Andrew Stephenson, 48.

- - Gilbert Christopher Vega, 32.

Chieftain Denver correspondent Robert Boczkiewicz contributed to this report.
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