Charges dismissed against two ACET suspects






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.


Frank Estey 9 years ago

Life will not be good for these two jokers after they get out because their brothers will assume they got off because they turned on them and they probably did give valuable information that will be used to pick up more scumbags.


notmpoppins 9 years ago

Are these two guys "legal"? If not are they being deported? Anyone know?


Taylor 9 years ago

Actually, Kielbasa, here is a snip from the original article, which would mean that at least one (if not both) of these men are illegals:

"According to jail records, each of the men was born in Mexico.

ACET reported that at least 10 of them are in the U.S. illegally - one of them claims to be a legal resident, but the task force can find no proof of it - and none appear to have legitimate employment."


Taylor 9 years ago

unbelievable. So then Kielbasa, you are saying that the orginal article was wrong about the legal status? Why must you always put your own spin on stories? You can't possibly be that naive. Here is the link to the orginal article re: the arrests. Maybe someone could read it to you and explain what it means.

I think it's pretty obvious these 2 rolled and that is why they were released. Not very likely for someone to go scott free from that kind of bust, while 9 others remain in custody. I don't think it a coincidence that it was the 2 youngest. Scared, easliy threatened by the law and therefore easiest to get to talk. I believe Greystone has it right.


Taylor 9 years ago

Molly - I could not agree more...and in this particular case, they are releasing criminals.


Frank Estey 9 years ago


Criminals make the best snitches........


gobroncos 9 years ago

Maybe she has already. Maybe the landowners should keep their dogs home. What a novel thought but that would be neighborly. I do believe that she let them on her property to fetch their runaway horse. When the dogs tore through her sons fence and kill birds, repeatedly, it is a definate promblem. At least she didn't go to work and brag about it. I do believe she resolved that situation with our SO after asking nicely for two years to keep the dogs home. Our neighborhood isn't meant to be a home for all of the wayward pound dogs.

There are a lot of negative feelings about these elk being slaughtered as it affects our whole county and it's image.

Some qestion will our DA do their job or not. Just like the illegals who were arrested for narcotics. Case after case in that courthouse has plea bargains. Maybe you should do your homework before spouting off at katobe.

She was fighting for justice with the DA. That guy spent less than a year on jail for killing someone.

Go rant somewhere else.


Taylor 9 years ago

Greystone - indeed they do.

Kielbasa - I believe you just want to argue for the sake of arguing. Just because a follow up article was printed, it does not mean the original article has no merit...unless of course a retraction is made. Which was not. I would be willing to bet they are all illegals and the reason the 2 were released is because they rolled. Doesn't that first article bother you at all? Oh that's right, you live in Steamboat...they don't send the drugs there. Only Craig people need to worry.


Nique 9 years ago

That's right !!!! The reason these two are out is because they spilled the rice on the NINE others or they have their eyes on the BIG FISH to get out of this one...But whatever I don't always believe what's on the paper and most of you might think I'm right!!!


Taylor 9 years ago

Were these two released from custody? The article says (drug) charges were dismissed. It does not say they were actually released.


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