Denver Man Convicted Of Selling Drugs From Taco Truck

By Keri Blakinger 08/28/17

The 49-year-old was one of 28 accused drug peddlers indicted by a federal grand jury two years ago.

person preparing a plate of tacos on food truck

Yo quiero… crystal meth? 

A man was convicted last week in federal court after he sold meth and cocaine from a food truck in Denver as the boss of a large-scale drug-trafficking operation, according to a Department of Justice press release.

A jury found Jorge Loya-Ramirez guilty after a seven-day trial in a federal court in Colorado. The 49-year-old was one of 28 accused drug peddlers indicted by a federal grand jury two years ago. While the others have all pleaded guilty, been sentenced or had their cases tossed, Loya-Ramirez was the last to be convicted in the case cops have dubbed Operation Black Rhino. 

The operation centered around a series of coordinated raids in June 2015, which netted a slew of arrests in Colorado, California and Mexico, according to the Denver Post. The targets included suspected gangsters with names like Bruiser, Flaco, Evil and Danger. 

“Under the federal system, there are very significant charges. There is no so-called parole. Inmates must serve at least 85% of the sentences before they are released,” then-U.S. Attorney John Walsh said in a press conference at the time. The indictments included members of a slew of gangs, including white supremacists, Latinos and African-Americans—all united by their interest in illicit income. 

“The FBI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute organized criminal enterprises,” FBI special agent in charge Thomas Ravenelle said when the initial arrests were announced.

Although Loya-Ramirez claimed to be a mere taco seller, prosecutors presented evidence that he was responsible for bringing in around 200 pounds of meth distributed throughout the Denver metro area and parts of southwest Kansas. He also dealt with coke by the key, prosecutors said. 

Throughout his time as “El Jefe” of the Denver-based drug-trafficking ring, Loya-Ramirez allegedly relied on violence and intimidation to run the illicit organization, sometimes threatening his workers in Colorado—and even their families in Mexico. Despite being—in theory—a taco truck owner, Loya-Ramirez built two pricey homes south of the border in the course of his dealings. 

Now, he’s facing 10 years to life in federal prison for slinging a lot more than tacos off his truck. 

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.