Three of the suspects arrested in connection with a cache of guns and drugs found in a downtown Denver hotel room last week now face federal charges in addition to their state cases.
On Friday morning, Richard Platt, Gabriel Rodriguez and Ricardo Rodriguez were handed over to an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Each faces a federal count of possession of a firearm or ammunition by a previous offender. Gabriel Rodriguez also faces a count of methamphetamine possession with intent to distribute.
The city's downtown detention center confirmed to The Denver Gazette that agent Greg Johnson picked up Richard Platt, Gabriel Rodriguez and Ricardo Rodriguez Friday morning. Court records showed initial appearances scheduled for 2 p.m.
The fourth suspect, Kanoelehua Serikawa, remained in local custody as of Friday and she does not currently face federal charges. Her attorney previously told The Gazette she had "peripheral" involvement in last week's operation, and Platt told investigators Serikawa was not involved in the sales of the guns, according to affidavits prepared by Johnson.
According to the affidavits, Platt said he did not have a choice in taking part in the gun sales because he was in trouble with "Rocco," a person he named as his drug dealer and trying to make extra money.
In the defendants' initial court appearance in their state cases Monday, a prosecutor said Ricardo Rodriguez appeared to be the "ringleader" of the hotel operation. Platt believed he was a firearms dealer, according to court papers, and thought Ricardo Rodriguez was legitimate because he showed Platt invoices for gun purchases.
Ricardo Rodriguez has previous felony convictions in Washington, Idaho and Colorado, according to the federal affidavits, including for possession of a controlled substance, forgery and criminal impersonation.
Platt had an active warrant for his arrest from Douglas County outstanding since December for failing a mandatory drug test as a condition of his bail in a case that includes a felony charge of possession of a weapon by a previous offender. His previous felony convictions include theft, possession of controlled substances and menacing with a weapon.
The affidavits indicate Gabriel Rodriguez has previous felony convictions including possession of a controlled substance.
Police arrested the four last week after a hotel housekeeper found firearms in one of the rooms while cleaning. Other hotel employees then linked the room to a car in the lot and saw tactical gear and high-capacity magazines in plain view in the vehicle, according to arrest affidavits released Monday. The hotel is two blocks from Coors Field; the arrests came just days before the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
Police ultimately found more than a dozen guns along and evidence of heroin, methamphetamine and ecstasy and more than $10,000 in cash.
Jason Dunn, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, told The Denver Gazette one of the resources federal prosecutors have easier access to is pretrial detention, which allows authorities to keep suspects in custody if they are considered a threat to the public or a threat to flee.
Additionally, sentence length and penalties are harsher at the federal level for crimes such as those that are gun-related, including a felon in possession of firearms, or drug charges.
Dunn is not involved in the investigation and said he does not know any information about the arrests, but said the federal government would not have become involved in the case if one of the suspects had an outstanding warrant in another state. Additionally, he said he does not believe it was related to a potential attack at the All-Star Game.
"I only know what I read publicly and based off the statements I've seen from Denver and the Denver Police Department is that it was not related to the All-Star Game," he said.
The FBI in Denver released a statement on Sunday saying in part, "We have no reason to believe this incident was connected to terrorism or a threat directed at the All-Star Game. We are not aware of any threat to the All-Star Game events, venues, players or the community at this time."
Serikawa, Gabriel Rodriguez and Ricardo Rodriguez have court appearances in their state cases scheduled for Monday at 9:30 a.m., according to the Denver County Court's online docket.