Colorado Attorney General claims comic books used in massive drug money laundering c

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    Federal, state and local authorities were involved in dismantling what was termed a "massive" and sophisticated methamphetamine drug ring involving 41 suspects and at least a half-million dollars in comic books.
    The 41 were indicted by a statewide grand jury, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said Monday.
    According to the indictment unsealed last week, the ring brought multiple-pound quantities of meth into the state every week for distribution in the Denver metro area.
    "The dealers ran a sophisticated operation aimed at moving and selling multiple pounds of methamphetamine each month," Suthers said.
    Suthers said the drug organization used a complex system to run the equivalent of 100,000 doses of meth through the Denver metro area every month.
    The indictment accuses brothers Aaron Castro, 29, of Commerce City and Alfonzo Castro, 30, of Denver, of being the ringleaders.
    It was primarily through wire taps on 13 telephone numbers that investigators learned just how large the alleged drug ring was. At the end of the yearlong operation, police seized a collection of comic books from the Castro brothers worth about $500,000.
    Among the 100 boxes of comics were collectors' items, including first-edition Batman and Superman comics stored in protective plastic wrapping. Some of the comics were worth thousands of dollars.
    "What we are talking about is money laundering -- a means to have something of value that can easily be converted to cash but keeps you from having stashes of cash around," Suthers said.
    Investigators believe the meth was being made in what they call a "super lab" in Mexico and smuggled to Colorado by way of Phoenix, Ariz. The women were used as "mules" to smuggle the drugs into the states by hiding it in their body cavities, Suthers said.
    The operation continued until Aug. 14 when more than 200 officers carried out a major arrest operation.
    "This is certainly the largest we've had in North Metro in the least at last of three years," said Broomfield Police Chief Thomas C. Deland, who also serves as president of the North Metro Task Force's governing board.
    Police said that besides the obvious benefits of removing the supply of drugs from the streets, there is a ripple effect from the arrests.
    "These guys commit an awful lot of crimes just to support their habits so we are talking about identify theft, we are talking about robberies, we are talking about burglaries," Deland said. "I think that's one of the biggest benefits to take down like this is it makes everyone a little bit safer."
    "The dismantling of this methamphetamine ring is a significant victory for the people of Colorado," Suthers said. "Methamphetamine fuels a great deal of crime in Colorado, including roughly two-thirds of the identity thefts in the state."
    The 41 were indicted on various charges including possession and distribution of a controlled substance.
    The Castro brothers are being held on $1 million bond.

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