ASPEN, Colo. (CBS4/AP) – The Drug Enforcement Administration has taken four Aspen-area residents into custody for their alleged role in a cocaine drug ring.
The DEA said the suspects funneled cocaine from Mexico to Colorado by way of Los Angeles. The long-running operation is suspected of bringing hundreds of pounds of cocaine into Aspen. Ten people have been indicted in an organization the DEA said had potential ties to violent drug cartels that have murdered thousands in Mexico.
The four detainees arrested in Colorado are Joan Susan Anastasi, 66, of Aspen; Joseph James Burke, 63, of Aspen Village; Jack Lee Fellner, 61, of Aspen; and Wayne Alan Reid, 65, of Aspen.
“All of the members of the Aspen organization were close knit friends, long term friends which made it difficult to penetrate the organization,” said DEA Acting Special Agent In Charge Kevin Merrill.
More than $175,000 in cash was seized along with more than $2 million in what’s described as drug-related properties. Aspen is in Pitkin County, but the federal agents made a point of not working with the local sheriff’s department.
“Early on in the investigation we determined the people that we identified were part of the Aspen-based organization had close relationships with the former sheriff Bob Broadas and the current sheriff Joe Disalvo,” said Merrill.
The ring had a trademark, the grim reaper was found on seals used to wrap the cocaine.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)