TETON CO., Idaho -- It's one the largest drug busts in the west and it’s taken well over a year to investigate.
Eleven men are behind bars facing charges of drug trafficking and conspiracy.
The arrests come after the cooperation of federal, state and local police agencies who came together after 14 months of investigating.
Teton County Sheriff Tony Liford said they've never had a case this large before. He's been working on it since he took office 14 months ago and said he will continue to not tolerate any crime in his county.
The message is we're not tolerating criminal activities in this county, said Liford. This is a beautiful place it's a place for people to come and ski and fish and hike not to open criminal enterprises.
Certainly for this state it's an extremely large amount and really quite frankly for the entire western region it's considered a significant case and a large amount, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Fica.
Because the case involved drug trafficking across state lines the investigation was conducted by federal, state and local authorities.
Police attribute the success of the arrests to the cooperation of the different agencies.
We are so small and we do need some help in some instances that we can reach out and with no ego, said Liford.
We want to get the job done and we'll use the resources and invite the resources we need to accomplish our goal.
Jesus Mara Figueroa, 51, of Tetonia is named as the ring leader of the group.
The other ten men charged with drug trafficking and conspiracy include Alberto Gasca-Mozqueda, David W. Arentz, Scott D. Mulligan, Rolando Manriquez-Garnica, Marco R. Bedolla aka Oscar Bedolla-Ramos, Benito Perez Zamora, Blanca G. Padilla, Tyson Sewell, Colin Wells, Isaias Lopez, and Daniel Calvillo-Altamirano.
The Teton County Sheriff's Office started the investigation and has worked with Idaho State Police Investigations, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, United States Marshal's Service, Idaho Falls Police Department and the Davis County (Utah) Drug Task Force.
The investigation revealed that over the last several years, Figueroa and others have been distributing large quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine in Teton County, the Upper Snake River Valley, parts of Wyoming and Utah.
The arraignment for the men will take place in federal court Friday in Pocatello.
By Brett Crandall
June 16, 2010
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