One of the largest drug enforcement operations in Mohave County’s history ended this week, when law enforcement officials from multiple local, state and federal agencies made dozens arrests in what’s being called an international heroin and methamphetamine smuggling enterprise.
On Nov. 10, detectives of the Mohave Area General Narcotics Enforcement Team, ended a two year long investigation into a drug trafficking organization operating in Mohave County. The extensive investigation, “Operation King Crimson,” started in February 2019 by MAGNET investigators with the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration.
At the start of the investigation detectives and federal agents learned of two drug trafficking organizations operating in the Kingman area. One of those organizations was allegedly led by Austreberto Acoltzi-Bautista, 48, of Kingman. The second organization was allegedly operated by Carlos Ochoa-Quinones, 30, of Kingman.
The investigation into Bautista’s organization revealed that he allegedly obtained large quantities of methamphetamine and heroin that was ordered from Mexico and then delivered into Southern California cities. Bautista would allegedly retrieve the drugs and distribute them in Mohave County and Las Vegas. Investigators say Bautista was found to have an assistant in the Kingman area, identified as 34-year-old Edwin Sosa-Castro.
Bautista was allegedly found to have 15 of his own drug dealers in Mohave County including Castro and an additional Las Vegas dealer. An additional 11 drug dealers allegedly purchased the drugs from Castro, according to investigators.
Through their investigation, MAGNET detectives worked with state and federal agents to allegedly identify major drug dealers selling methamphetamine and heroin in Kingman, Bullhead City, Dolan Springs and Golden Valley.
The investigation also encompassed the States of California, Nevada, Iowa and the Country of Mexico. Throughout the investigation Investigators seized 120 pounds of methamphetamine, two pounds of heroin, 38 guns of which 5 were identified as stolen. Investigators also seized about $500,000 US Currency and real property. During portions of the investigation, officials say MAGNET received support from the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“This is the largest operation of its kind to date, removing a large volume of illicit drugs from our county,” said Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster this week. “A criminal enterprise that flooded our county with its poison has been completely eradicated. I am extremely proud of the excellent work by our MAGNET Detectives and their exhaustive efforts to bring this investigation to a successful end. We had tremendous assistance from our law enforcement partners and I truly appreciate the hard work and cooperation of all agencies involved.”
Dozens of alleged participants in the criminal enterprises have been taken into custody throughout the two-year investigation. According to investigators, Quinones remains at large, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
“Mexican drug cartels flood our country with dangerous drugs. These drugs destroy lives and tear at the very fabric of our communities. Today, the people of Mohave County and the greater Las Vegas area are safer due to the efforts of MAGNET, DEA and our partners,” said DEA Special Agent Cheri Oz. “DEA will continue to fight to keep these poisons from devastating our families, friends and loved ones.”
Prosecution of “Operation King Crimson” is a joint effort by the Arizona Attorney General’s office and the Mohave County Attorney’s Office. According to investigators, several members of the organizations remained at large as of this week.
“Meth and heroin are vicious drugs that destroy lives, devastate our communities, and compromise the public’s safety,” said Homeland Security Special Agent Scott Brown. “We will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners to bring narcotic traffickers to justice.”