DURANGO, Colo. – United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn announced that two unrelated individuals have pleaded guilty to methamphetamine trafficking on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. Trisha Herrera, age 40, of Ignacio, Colorado, and Rita Clark, age 31, of Arboles, Colorado entered their guilty pleas before Magistrate Judge James Candelaria. These investigations were developed in part as a result of the Southern Ute Police Department’s hiring of a full time drug investigator. Southern Ute Police Chief Raymond Coriz joined in this announcement.
According to court documents, in March of 2020, Herrera arranged drug deals on four separate occasions with other individuals on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. Over the course of those four deals, Herrera exchanged 38 grams of narcotics for $1,130 in cash.
In an unrelated case, court documents show that on July 17, 2020, Clark arranged a meeting with an individual on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation to exchange methamphetamine for money. Clark delivered 56.49 grams of narcotics in exchange for $1,200 in cash.
Both Herrera and Clark face up to forty years imprisonment. Herrera is scheduled to be sentenced on February 2, 2021, with Clark being scheduled to be sentenced on April 5, 2021. Both sentences will be pronounced by U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn.
“Federal prosecutors have the important responsibility to work in tandem with our tribal partners to promote public safety on tribal land,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. “These prosecutions, and the continuing effort to combat narcotics on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation, show that endangering the community by profiting from dangerous narcotics does not pay.”
“The Southern Ute Police Department will not tolerate the continued destruction of lives caused by these unscrupulous drug dealers,” said Southern Ute Police Chief Raymond Coriz. “We will continue to aggressively investigate low to high level drug traffickers anywhere within the Boundaries of the Southern Ute Indian Reservation and beyond.”
These cases were cooperatively investigated by the Southern Ute Police Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs – Division of Drug Enforcement. The defendants are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Graves.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado. Related court documents can be found on PACER by searching for Case Numbers 20-cr-234 and 20-cr-235.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.