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Police bust 'sophisticated' Ogden drug ring; 10 arrested

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OGDEN — An investigation into a major methamphetamine trafficking operation culminated recently with charges against 10 people in Utah and Arizona.

The Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force on Wednesday announced the results of the nearly yearlong operation.

On Jan. 10, Darren "D" Lewis Lujan, 37, was charged in Ogden's 2nd District Court with 21 felonies, including charges of continuing a criminal enterprise, a first-degree felony, and 20 counts of drug distribution, all second-degree felonies.

Lujan, who lives in Phoenix, was a former Ogden resident and longtime high-ranking gang member, according to a statement from the strike force.

"Through his gang contacts and organization, he was able to facilitate the smuggling of hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine from Arizona to the northern Utah area," the task force announced in the statement.

The drugs then were distributed in Utah, Montana and North Dakota, according to officials. The operation included gang members and associates from several gangs. Investigators believe Lujan was getting his supply through a Mexican drug cartel. They believe he had been distributing drugs in northern Utah for several years.

Lujan was arrested Monday in Arizona. The investigation included court-approved wire taps of suspected associates, according to charging documents.

Sixty-one people were believed to be involved in the operation and could face up to 180 felony charges.

Also charged were Maria Sabala, 43, of Ogden, and her son, Gabriel Juarez, 22, of Ogden; James Villastrigo, 39, of Ogden; Bobby Gilbert Martinez, 36, of South Ogden; Isaac Tirado, 32, of Ogden; Craig Greene, 33, a transient in Davis and Weber counties; Anthony Russell Gentile, 36, of Ogden; Tiffany Kay Booth, 25, of Ogden; and Marquita Shantell Valdez, 29.

As of Wednesday, all but one of the 10 defendants had been taken into custody.

Sixty-one people were believed to be involved in the operation and could face up to 180 felony charges, according to police.

Lt. Troy Burnett, with the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force, said the majority of suspects were from Utah, with a couple of others believed to be in Montana and Arizona.

More than 15 pounds of meth and a pound of heroin, marijuana, cocaine and psilocybin mushrooms were seized, in addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash.

The operation also involved the Ogden office of the FBI, Roy Police Department, South Ogden Police Department, Ogden Police Department, Ogden Metro Gang Unit, Phoenix Police Department, Utah Highway Patrol, Montana Division of Homeland Security and the Arizona office of the FBI. The operation was "closely monitored" by the Weber County Attorney’s Office, according to the narcotics team.


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