Aurora Drug Dealer Sentenced to 23 Years in Federal Prison

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

DENVER – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announces that Candelaria Vallejo-Gallo, age 43, of Aurora, Colorado, was sentenced to 23 years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin.  She was also sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Both sentences are to be served concurrently.

According to the plea agreement, the defendant led a conspiracy from March 2019 through February 2020 to transport and distribute large quantities of illegal drugs, working with Mexico-based sources of supply to pick up those drugs in California and employing a network of interstate load transporters, local runners, multi-pound drug customers, and lieutenants to carry out the conspiracy.

During this period, law enforcement seized over three hundred pounds of methamphetamine, over two kilograms of heroin, approximately two kilograms of cocaine, and approximately a kilogram and a half of fentanyl pills.  These illicit drugs came from load runs or packages destined for the defendant and seized in Utah and Colorado.  Intercepted calls from members of the defendant’s organization in 2019 also indicated the defendant’s receipt of multiple additional loads of more than fifty pounds of methamphetamine destined for redistribution.  From March 2019 through January 2020, the FBI purchased over six kilograms of methamphetamine, as well as a quantity of heroin, in over a dozen controlled purchases of drugs from the defendant.  The defendant was also observed actively distributing drugs, including a ten-pound methamphetamine distribution in July 2019.

To carry out this conspiracy, the defendant threatened violence to organization members perceived to be disloyal and expressed a desire to kill rivals, as reflected in calls intercepted pursuant to a court-authorized wiretap.  

“Removing dangerous drug dealers from our streets is a core part of our strategy to make Colorado safer,” said United States Attorney Cole Finegan.  “We thank our law enforcement partners for their effective collaboration in this effort.”

“Friday’s sentence is a direct result of the dedicated work of the FBI and our federal, state, and local partners to combat criminal organizations that distribute methamphetamine, fentanyl, heroin, and other dangerous substances in our communities,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael H. Schneider. “The FBI will continue to investigate individuals and groups who attempt to further the scourge of drugs and violence in the areas we serve. The FBI thanks our partners, including DEA, HSI, ICE-ERO, IRS-CI, USPIS, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their diligence and collaboration.”

“The laundering of illegal drug profits is as important and essential to drug traffickers as the distribution of their illegal drugs. Without access to these ill-gotten gains, the drug kingpins are not able to finance their operations,” said Andy Tsui, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Denver Field Office. “The role of IRS:CI in narcotics cases is to investigate and prosecute the financial violations that support the disruption and dismantling of major drug trafficking organizations. We are proud to provide this financial expertise as we worked alongside our law enforcement partners to bring the members of this organization to justice.”

“Drug trafficking organizations who bring methamphetamine and other illegal drugs also bring unprecedented violence to Colorado and our communities,”  said John Fabbricatore, Field Officer Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations, Denver. “ERO is dedicated to working with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to keep our communities safe.”

“We continue to bring all our investigative capabilities to bear on Drug Trafficking Organizations who distribute dangerous poison like meth and fentanyl in Colorado,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, Denver. “This sentence holds Candelaria accountable for her crimes and serves as a warning that HSI and its law enforcement partners will work diligently to keep highly addictive drugs out of Colorado.”


United States District Court Judge Raymond Moore sentenced Vallejo-Gallo on March 4, 2022.

Agents and deputies assigned to the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Strike Force from the FBI, ICE ERO, HSI, IRS, 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.  Assistant United States Attorneys Cyrus Y. Chung, Zachary Phillips, and Peter McNeilly 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.

Case number:  20-cr-0028