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Feds tackle drug trafficking through Operation Rio Grande

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) - U.S. Attorney John Huber announced a federal indictment stemming from an arrest relating to Operation Rio Grande.

One suspect is facing serious jail time if found guilty.

The U.S. Attorney said his office’s involvement was because the case involves illegal guns paired with drug trafficking.

Authorities say the drug trade can be dangerous and they believe it's been a direct result in the 13 percent increase in violent crime in our state.

The suspect in this indictment is James Musa Gama, 39, of Salt Lake City. Gama was arrested back in early December for selling spice and being found with a stolen gun. He was released before charges were filed.

Agents found him again at Pioneer Park at the end of January with jars of spice and another gun.

Commissioner Keith Squires with the Department of Public Safety didn't have an explanation on why Gama was released after his first arrest, but said there can be several causes.

"It's the reality of the situation," said Commissioner Squires. "Sometimes it can be jail capacity, but there are also an individual's right to due process, and ability to bail."

According to the Salt Lake County Jail records, there was a pre-court release and the charges weren't enough to hold him.

Because this is the second gun charge Gama could be facing a minimum of 25 years in jail.

"This is where we in the federal law enforcement have a hammer to bring down some justice against those who expose us to such violence and the risk of violence,” said Huber.

Huber said in 2015 there was a 13 percent rise in the number of violent crimes in Utah. This comes after years of decline.

Troopers and agents who have been working here since Operation Rio Grande began back in August say that spice and heroin have been the biggest problems they see.

The issue with spice is that it can often be made locally with few ingredients and turns a high profit for drug dealers.

Commissioner Squires said they have been seeing success in disrupting the cartels that were operating in the area. That's because many neighboring states have noticed an increase in cartel members being arrested there.

The Commissioner notes the operation is far from over.

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