Operation 'Shattered Glass' stops criminals from trafficking drugs from Mexico, through Colorado to a jail in Wyoming

DENVER, CO - A 15-month long multi-state undercover investigation has led to the the arrest of 31 suspects and the confiscation of thousands of fentanyl pills as well as methamphetamines, heroin and cocaine. 

On Tuesday, April 9th, Laramie County Sheriff Brian Kozak told reporters that then investigation began back in December of 2022 when a diligent deputy discovered a manipulated door going from the detention center laundry room to a secured area within the jail. While investigating the door, the deputy found a "shattered glass" block on the exterior wall of the jail.

Deputies then watched security footage, in which the agency was able to identify a vehicle and an individual suspected of delivering drugs to inmates through that shattered block. It was this tip that set off the monthslong undercover investigation. According to CBS News, the investigation led to the shutdown of a major drug ring that involved both Colorado and Wyoming. 

The operation was dubbed "Shattered Glass," which comes from how the deputy initially found the manipulated jail door in the laundry room. The shattered glass block was used to get contraband into the Laramie Jail. The suspects involved were moving fentanyl and other drugs from Mexico through Colorado along I-25 to Wyoming. 

Kozak said in a statement, "The supply was coming from Mexico, through Colorado into Wyoming. Yes, I-25 makes that easy to happen. I-80 also makes it easy. There are a lot of drugs being transported on those interstates, which is why all the agencies involved, they do put a lot of efforts into interdiction."

He noted that Cheyenna, Wyoming, is a known distribution hub for drug dealers. He added, "Unfortunately, we have a lot of users and people who are addicted to opioids in our community."

As soon as the Laramie County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) realized that fentanyl was being trafficked into the jail, deputies were set on tracking down the source in an effort to stop the flow of drugs as quickly as they could. Kozak said, "When you're dealing with fentanyl investigations, you want to try to track down the source and try to get those involved as fast as you can because you're trying to save lives because fentanyl is so deadly."

The investigation was handed over to the LCSO detective who was assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force. The detective then partnered with an agent of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation and together they were able to identify a drug organization operating out of Colorado and Mexico. According to the detective and agent, the organization was supplying fentanyl and methamphetamine to numerous individuals in Laramie County and Southeast Wyoming. 

Kozak said that in 2023 there were 17 fentanyl poisoning deaths in Laramie County. He said, "That's 17 in our county alone. When we talk about fentanyl poisoning, you'll notice that we don't every use the word overdose because overdose is taking too much of something that if you normally take a therapeutic dose, it would be OK. But, that's not the case with fentanyl, because it kills you, no matter what the dose is."

Kozak then highlighted one of the suspects in the case, Korysa Shepard, who was released from the Laramie County Jail in February 2023. She was headed to Fort Collins, but died of an overdose. During 2023, investigators arrested 31 suspects, including 12 that the U.S. Attorney's Office is prosecuting. Three federal defendants are awaiting sentencing and a fourth is awaiting trial; those individual's names have been withheld. 

The names of eight federal defendants and their sentences are: Ryan Bennett, felon in possession of a firearm, intent to deliver fentanyl — sentenced to 66 months in federal prison; Joseph Flores, intent to deliver fentanyl — sentenced to 24 months in federal prison; Raymond Paddock, intent to deliver fentanyl — sentenced to 33 months in federal prison; Daniel Ellis, intent to deliver fentanyl — sentenced to 63 months in federal prison; Michael Guzman, intent to deliver fentanyl — sentenced to 75 months in federal prison; Ashley Hyatt, intent to deliver fentanyl, conspiracy to distribute fentanyl — sentenced to 65 months in federal prison; Cesar Lerma Hernandez, conspiracy to distribute fentanyl — sentenced to 57 months in federal prison; and Miguel Guerrero-Castaneda, conspiracy to distribute fentanyl — sentenced to 57 months in federal prison.

Another suspect, identified as Anthoney Bryant, is being sought. He has a felony warrant issued for his arrest on charges of burglary and theft of over $1,000, in addition to several misdemeanor warrants for probation violation, possession of a controlled substance, theft and use of a controlled substance, and failure to pay. 

Investigators seized over 16,300 fentanyl pills, 604 grams of methamphetamine, 64 grams of heroin, and 4 grams of cocaine, in addition to five firearms from individuals not allowed to possess firearms. The investigation required a total of 45 search warrants. 

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