Arrests made in Littleton slaying

Posted 6/5/10

Less than 48 hours after a Littleton man was shot to death, five people were arrested in three states. Court documents were released outlining a …

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Arrests made in Littleton slaying


Less than 48 hours after a Littleton man was shot to death, five people were arrested in three states.

Court documents were released outlining a murder-for-hire plot with connections to a Detroit drug trafficking operation.

Even before Joaquin Lucero-Carrillo was killed June 1 at his apartment on Belleview Avenue, federal agents were on the trail of the men they suspect are responsible. Agents had tapped into phone calls in Michigan telling of a “job” that needed to be done in Colorado.

The nature of that task would become evident to authorities only after local police began a dogged investigation into the murder, a relatively rare crime in Littleton.

“We take it pretty personal here at the PD that someone thinks they can come into our city, kill someone and get away with it,” said Lt. Sean Dugan of the Littleton Police Department.

On June 2, the Littleton police SWAT team and federal agents raided a home in Sheridan. Jesus Daniel Medina-Meraz was arrested. Four others were arrested that day across the country in connection with the case.

In all, six men face charges that include conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce with intent to commit murder.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents believe the man who pulled the trigger was Franklin Gonzalo Sierra-Rodriguez, of the Detroit area. He was arrested in Houston after agents tracked him through the location of his cell phone.

Enrique Amaya is suspected of having hired Sierra-Rodriguez to kill Lucero-Carrillo. Amaya was arrested in Detroit.

A report by Littleton police describes Lucero-Carrillo and the men under investigation as “associates.”

Keeping tabs on suspects

Lucero-Carrillo, 42, was shot to death around 1 a.m. June 1 at his apartment at 750 W. Belleview Ave.

Long before the killing, agents were monitoring Amaya’s phone calls as they tracked suspected drug-related activities, according to an arrest affidavit.

Phone records from May 14 detail a conversation between Amaya and Franklin Baquedano, also named in the affidavit, that they believe describes plans for Sierra-Rodriguez’s trip to Colorado.

The two men did not specify what was to be done, but called it a “job,” according to a partial transcript of their conversation. At one point, Amaya is heard to say he cannot travel to Colorado.

“No, I can’t go because I have to stay here. I have to prove that I am in town, dude.”

The men were looking for someone to drive Sierra-Rodriguez to Colorado, agents say.

Later, a driver was found with the help of another man named in the affidavit, Jesus De La Rosa-Ramirez. The trip would be worth $1,000 to the transporter, with all expenses paid.

A transcript from May 29 reportedly shows two women, who have not been named, had agreed to the deal.

De La Rosa-Ramirez: “But there’s going to be two of them. Her sister is going too.”

Amaya: “All right. No problem. But there’s only going to be one guy going with her.”

De La Rosa-Ramirez: “OK, as long as the guy doesn’t tell her anything.”

Amaya: “No, it’s OK. The guy won’t tell her anything.”

Shortly after, the three set off on the trip. Once in Colorado, they reportedly stayed at a hotel in Lakewood.

In the early morning hours of June 1, as the long Memorial Day weekend was coming to a close, there was a knock on the door of a northeast Littleton apartment.

Lucero-Carrillo answered the door, words were exchanged, then the suspect, now identified as Sierra-Rodriguez, began firing. The suspect was holding the door open with his foot and continued to fire through the door after the victim was able to close it, Littleton police said.

Lucero-Carrillo was shot multiple times and died in a local hospital.

The gunman went down a stairwell, while continuing to shoot into the apartment. Witnesses told police he pointed his gun at several bystanders as he made his getaway into the passenger side of a waiting vehicle.

Phone records show, according to the documents, that Sierra-Rodriguez was in the parking lot of Lucero-Carrillo’s apartment building at 12:54 a.m. An hour and 15 minutes later, Sierra-Rodriguez was traveling east on Interstate 70.

Agents tell of a phone conversation June 1 between Baquedano and Amaya. Sierra-Rodriguez was to be instructed to pull the micro-chip from his cell phone and destroy it so his whereabouts could not be traced.

It would become apparent that did not happen.

Another conversation later in the day, between Amaya and Medina-Meraz, the Sheridan man, addresses the shooting, agents believe.

Amaya: “Oh. And what happened with this guy?”

Medina-Meraz: “What guy?”

Amaya: “With ‘El Cuarro’”?

Medina-Meraz: “Well, they killed him — didn’t I tell you in the morning?”

Amaya: “And how?”

Medina-Meraz: “Someone got into his apartment.”

On June 2, agents notified Houston police that Sierra-Rodriguez’s cell phone location indicated he was in their area. Sierra-Rodriguez and the two women were arrested that morning at a hotel.

Local police at work 

Medina-Meraz proved to be the person who tied the drug ring and the murder together, authorities say. He was arrested after Littleton police officers suspected he was not telling them the truth.

Officers had interviewed him early on in the investigation after discovering a connection between him and the victim through a vehicle.

 “He told us some stories to take us off path, like the victim was having an extra-marital affair with a married woman,” Dugan said. “We never had any supporting evidence that was true. He wasn’t being completely forthright.”

 Littleton officers soon learned the DEA had been investigating Medina-Meraz and his vehicle and that he had ties to Detroit drug traffickers.     

Time is of the essence in a homicide case and Dugan said officers worked around the clock during the first 24 hours.

“That first day, our guys were here until midnight,” he said. “That first 24 hours is the best time to track people down, track movements, witnesses’ memories are fresh. Those first few minutes are so precious.”

 Making arrests in three states less than 48 hours after the murder was the result of cooperation between many different agencies, Dugan said. That includes Littleton detectives, case administrators, crime analysts, the Sheridan Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office and the DEA.

Authorities have not released, or are still exploring, a motive for the homicide.

Dugan said Lucero-Carrillo had lived in Littleton for five years, but that the police department did not have any contacts on him.

 “He’d been a citizen that stayed under the radar,” he said.

 Medina-Meraz, Amaya, Sierra-Rodriguez and others had been under surveillance since at least late 2009.

Getting back to normal

Three days after the murder, things were quiet in the courtyard at Parkland Square Apartments, near the border with Englewood. The front door of  apartment 129, which on June 1 exhibited seven neon rods marking bullet holes, had been replaced with a new light-colored wooden door.

A pot with a white cross and purple ribbon had been placed next to the door.

Daryl Wade, 27, who has lived at the apartment complex for a month, said he did not feel any less safe there after the murder.

 “I just mind my own business,” Wade said. “I’m not worried about someone coming to shoot me up. Obviously, they were determined to find that guy.”


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