Only on 11 News--a drug deal caught on tape. We're taking you inside an undercover operation to take down a meth ring. Prosecutors just released the evidence to 11 News after the a jury found the ring leader guilty.
It's a story you'll see only on 11 News. Late Tuesday night, a jury found 50–year–old Steven Anothony Valles guilty on 15 counts including possession and distribution of meth.
Drug task force investigators say he was the king pin of a meth ring with five other dealers.
Prosecutors just unsealed evidence they used in the trial against Valles. They say the recorded phone conversations and video are the smoking guns in this drug case. They say the evidence shows Steven Valles was leading a ring of meth dealers.
Hidden cameras were rolling when an undercover drug deal went down. Officers say Steven Valles sold them meth.
Prosecutors say the video shows Valles lean in the car, then another dealer drops a cigarette pack in the front seat.
The officer then hands Valles a package with $1,600 and when he drives away, prosecutors say you can see it's more than cigarettes in the pack, it's an ounce of meth.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein says it's easier to convince a jury when you have evidence on tape.
"There's nothing better than audio or video. Certainly that's the pinnacle of what we're trying to get to is to be able to record it in the best way possible and be able to show it to the jury," Rubinstein told 11 News on Thursday.
He says it took undercover investigators almost nine months to work their way into Valles' operation.
During their undercover work, they captured video and recorded phone conversations like this one between Valles and the detective:
Valles: What time do you want to split? That way I can meet you at the gas station where the car wash is in Cifton.
Detective: You want me to go with you to get it?
Valles: Sure you got to go with me to get it.
Rubinstein says these call were to set up times, places, prices and amounts of drugs but little was said over the phone, and it was often in code:
Valles: You're looking at about 15 or 16 okay, just to let you know a heads up.
Detective: But that's gonna pull you out right?
Valles: We'll find out when it happens.
Detective: You're going to get something off the top?
Valles: I'll talk to you when you get here.
Rubinstein says that 15 or 16, was $1,500 or $1,600--going rate for an ounce of meth.
He says the exchange of cash and drug happened four times but just before Valles and the detective were going to meet for a fifth time, Valles saw other uncover agents doing surveillance at their meeting spot and left this message:
Valles: I'm scared to go back over there, I'll meet you in Clifton.
But Valles would never make it to Clifton. Other law enforcement officers standing by pulled him over and found 2.5 ounces of meth in his floorboards and $900 of the undercover officer's money.
After they arrested Valles, investigators linked him with five other suspects--Jennifer Williams, Jerry Hoshour, Anthony Pommerening, Robert York and Tracy Black.
Prosecutors say this is just one of dozens of drug deals that goes on everyday in Mesa County and the fight is far from over.
But Dan Rubinstein says this takedown will make a difference.
"Whether we count up the number of doses or we count up the number of people that could have been distributed to as a result of this organization, either way it's a big win for law enforcement," said Rubinstein.
Prosecutors tell 11 News the drug task force got more than 112 grams off the street by busting Valles.
They say that's enough meth for 448 people to get high.
Valles is scheduled for sentencing in May. He's facing anywhere from eight to 204 years in prison.
Prosecutors tell 11 News the money used in the undercover drug deals comes from the federal government and the DEA. They say because Mesa county is on the I–70 corridor and along Highway 50, we qualify as a high intensity drug trafficking area and we get thousands of dollars for investigations like the one involving Valles.