Feds bust Aurora-based drug ring they say operated out of grocery store

“This organization is alleged to have moved large amounts of meth and cocaine from Mexico to Colorado, with devastating impact on communities in their wake

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Aurora Police officers stand outside of the El Rancho Market on Thursday, where Federal agents broke up a drug ring that was operating out of the grocery store. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

AURORA | Ten people are in custody after a drug sweep that federal prosecutors say broke up an Aurora-based cocaine and methamphetamine ring operating out of a grocery store and two homes.

In a statement Thursday, the United States Attorney’s Office in Denver said the operation, led by the Denver office of the Drug Enforcement Agency, netted nine arrests across the state. One other person was already in custody, and seven are fugitives, the statement said.

Prosecutors said Jose Tapia-Rubio, 58, of Aurora, led the drug operation, which included running drugs from Mexico to California and then distributing them from the El Rancho Market at 15401 East Mississippi Ave. The group also used multiple “stash houses” around the area, including two Aurora homes at 12091 E. Arizona Ave. and 17994 E. Utah Place, officials said.

Tapia-Rubio, who was nicknamed “Don Chaquetas,” was arrested in Aurora this morning, prosecutors said, and faces “drug kingpin” charges that could carry a life sentence.

Prosecutors said that between Feb. 1, 2016 and last week, the group dealt in at least five kilograms of cocaine, at least 50 grams of meth and at least 500 grams of “a substance containing a detectable amount of meth.”

“We are committed to dismantling and removing the threat posed by these criminal organizations flooding American communities with dangerous narcotics,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the statement. “This organization is alleged to have moved large amounts of meth and cocaine from Mexico to Colorado, with devastating impact on communities in their wake.”