Authorities raid local home, business |

Authorities raid local home, business

Investigation leads to arrests in smuggling ring that extended to Mexico; involved multi-kilo deals

Ryan Sheridan

In full Special Response Team (SRT) combat gear and with weapons drawn, officers of the Moffat County Sheriff’s Department and Craig Police Department smashed through the door of a Craig residence Friday and rushed into a local business as part of a coordinated multi-county and multi-state drug bust. The officers had been awaiting word from Silverthorn and Denver that other arrests had been made as part of a coordinated effort between local, state and federal agencies.

The operation was a GRAMNET one, and the eventual size of the case brought in federal involvement in the form of warrants and DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency] participation.

After more than 18 months of investigations, a cocaine pipeline that ran from Mexico, through Craig, was exposed and dismantled on Friday and Monday.

The police and deputies had been preparing since 10 a.m., and made the raids at approximately 11:45 a.m. and 12 a.m.

“We have to time all the arrests and raids as close as we can so that one arrest or raid wouldn’t tip off another target and have some evidence disappear before we can get to it,” Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said. “This investigation started out here with just a small buy, but one source led to another, and we just climbed the ladder over time.

“When working narcotics, one little thing can happen that will let the investigators know this is an opportunity to work further up the levels. “

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The arrests and busts have led to further investigations, which are presently ongoing. More arrests and search warrants are anticipated.

“This investigation lead to arrests in Thornton, Sante Fe, Silverthorne, Steamboat and Craig it led us all the way down to Mexico,” Vanatta said. “We’re dealing with multi-kilo deals.”

The police department served federal warrants on a residence and business in Craig. The tactical teams went in and secured the sites, and then the DEA conducted the search.

The house at 674 Tucker St., was raided around noon Friday, and Toro Steel and Ironworks at 80 E. 4th St. directly after. Toro Steel was targeted because the owner of the home and business are the same person.

Jesus Manuel “Jesse” Grijalva, 49, and Stephen Skufca, 41, both of Craig, were arrested for violations of federal drug trafficking laws, along with four others from Thornton. Cash was seized from the house on Tucker Street, and documents were seized from Toro Steel and Ironworks.

The July 19 record bust in Denver that netted $10 million worth of cocaine was a derivative of an investigation that started here in Craig, Vanatta said.

“This network was substantial part of how drugs came into this area,” he said. “There will be a definite impact on the amount of drugs coming into our communities because of this investigation.”

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