Mexican national sentenced for role in drug conspiracy

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DENVER – A Mexican national arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations officers Sept. 12, 2019, was found guilty and sentenced to charges in a drug conspiracy.

Omar Rivas-Saenz, 31, of Denver, was sentenced to over 14 years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, fentanyl, and heroin.

According to the plea agreement and court filings, from May 2019 until September 2019, Rivas-Saenz worked for a drug trafficking organization that engaged in the interstate transportation and local distribution of large quantities of illegal drugs sourced from Mexico. On May 16, 2019, state authorities arrested the defendant after finding him with roughly seven pounds of methamphetamine, as well as over $6,000 in cash. State authorities found several firearms in his house, including one with a defaced serial number, as well as $3,000 in cash, 67 grams of heroin, and 400 fentanyl pills.

The defendant failed to appear for scheduled state court hearings and, six days after his arrest, he delivered a pound of 98% pure methamphetamine to a confidential informant. He then assisted in the coordination of the distribution of 10 pounds of methamphetamine and participated in the redistribution of 46 and 50-pound loads of methamphetamine.

The ERO Special Response Team was activated to arrest Rivas-Saenz due to his violent background. SRT members are trained to serve high-risk warrants under hazardous conditions, escort dangerous criminals who have been ordered deported and assist local law enforcement agencies during critical incidents.

When ICE SRT officers attempted to arrest the defendant on a federal warrant, the defendant’s vehicle collided with police vehicles and the defendant fled on foot, leading officers on a chase through a residential area until he was finally taken into custody.

“Armed drug dealers who run from law enforcement create a particularly dangerous threat to the safety of our communities,” said United States Attorney Cole Finegan. “Our office is working with law enforcement partners to make Colorado a safer place by prosecuting these dangerous criminals.”

United States District Court Judge Raymond Moore sentenced Rivas-Saenz Dec. 17, 2021.

Agents and deputies assigned to the Strike Force from the FBI, ICE ERO, HSI, IRS-CI, and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation and were assisted by officers and deputies from the Colorado State Patrol and the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office. The Denver Police Department conducted the initial arrest of the defendant, and the Drug Enforcement Administration aided in the defendant’s apprehension on federal charges. Assistant United States Attorneys Cyrus Chung and Kelly Churnet handled the prosecution of the case.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

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