Mexican man living in Denver convicted in large-scale drug operation

DENVER — A citizen from Mexico living in Denver was convicted late Wednesday of nine counts of drug charges after a jury trial that lasted one week.

Jurors took three hours to deliberate and return guilty verdicts against  49-year-old Jorge Loya-Ramirez.

Loya-Ramirez is the last defendant charged under the case name Operation Black Rhino.

All other defendants had previously pleaded guilty and have or are awaiting sentencing.

Loya-Ramirez and 27 others were indicted by a federal grand jury on June 23, 2015.

Of the 27 other defendants, most have pleaded guilty, some have been sentenced and others had their cases dismissed.

Loya-Ramirez was convicted of one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine; five counts of possession and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; one count of possession and possession with intent to distribute cocaine; and three counts of use of a telephone during the commission of a drug offense.

Loya-Ramirez claimed during the trial to be a man who sold tacos from a food truck. However, the prosecution proved he was the “El Jefe” or “The Boss” of a large-scale drug trafficking organization.

He was responsible for importing nearly 200 pounds of methamphetamine, which was then distributed in the Denver metro area, Fort Morgan, Greeley and southwest Kansas. Additionally, he dealt kilogram quantities of cocaine.

The prosecution also established that Loya-Ramirez used violence and intimidation to make his drug organization function.

His tactics included acts of violence and assaults on workers in Colorado as well as threat against family members of his associates in the state and in Mexico.

While claiming to be a taco salesman, Loya-Ramirez built two high-priced homes in Mexico during the conspiracy.

Loya-Ramirez faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison. A sentencing date has not been set.