The 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office dismissed drug distribution charges late Friday against two suspects arrested during last month's sweep by the All Crimes Enforcement Team.
"The DA's Office is obligated to dismiss charges (when) there is not a sufficient likelihood of a conviction at a trial," Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Snow said in a news release. "While there was sufficient evidence to support the arrest and charges at the time, the information uncovered by ACET's continuing investigation obligates the DA's Office to dismiss these charges."
Four felony charges were dismissed against Randalfo Valenzuela-Lopez, 23, and Heriberto Chavez-Hernandez, 21.
The men were arrested March 25 along with nine others in one of ACET's largest operations to date. Authorities allege the remaining nine men, each of whom are believed to be in the United States illegally, are tied to one of Northwest Colorado's biggest trafficking organizations and possibly Mexican organized crime.
ACET Commander Garrett Wiggins recently informed prosecutors that "new information" surfaced regarding Valenzuela-Lopez and Chavez-Hernandez.
"Based on this new information, it was unlikely that there would be enough evidence to prove the charges against these two individuals beyond a reasonable doubt," Snow wrote. "Nor did it appear likely that further investigation would produce additional evidence sufficient to convict these individuals at trial."
Wiggins recommended the charges be dismissed, and prosecutors agreed and filed a motion to dismiss.
Eight of the remaining nine suspects arrested March 25 face the same four charges - distribution of a schedule 2 controlled substance, two counts of possession of a schedule 2 controlled substance with intent to sell or distribute and conspiracy to distribute or manufacture a schedule 2 controlled substance.
The controlled substances are alleged to be between 25 and 450 grams of methamphetamine, amphetamine, or cocaine, according to the charges.
One of the eight, Marco Contreras-Alcala also faces an additional count of possession of a schedule 2 controlled substance with intent to sell or distribute and a sentence enhancer of possession of a deadly weapon by a special offender.
Edgar Pena-Villava, a suspect who was arrested on a warrant, unlike the others who were taken on warrant-less arrests, faces two counts of distribution of a schedule 2 controlled substance, possession of a schedule 2 controlled substance with intent to sell or distribute and conspiracy to distribute or manufacture a schedule 2 controlled substance.
Prosecutors also added two sentence enhancers - direct conspiracy to sell or distribute and committing the alleged offenses which "constituted a substantial source of the defendant's income," according to the charges.
The suspects are scheduled to appear at 1 p.m. today in Moffat County Court for an advisement hearing.
A day after the March 25 arrests, authorities detained three others in connection with the alleged drug distribution ring.
Vita Pilar Hochreiter, Russell Stewart McDiffett, both 34, and Mallory Dean Johnston, 24, each are charged with a sole count of distribution of a schedule 2 controlled substance.
"The 14th Judicial District and ACET continue to pursue charges against the 12 remaining individuals arrested in connection with this investigation," Snow said.
Wiggins said Tuesday there will be no more recommendations from the task force to prosecutors for the dismissal of charges against any of the other suspects.
"It's just limited to these two," he said, reiterating that the investigation revealed more suspicion against the two men than evidence.
"And we base our investigations off facts, not assumptions," he added.