Two high level drug cartel kingpins in Colorado have been sentenced to prison, the First Judicial District Attorney's office announced Monday.
They were among 19 people arrested last year by the West Metro Drug Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Jose Jimenez-Chacon and Conrado Arellano-Casas were each sentenced to 20 years in prison.
An investigation spanning nearly one year discovered their drug trafficking ring was using tour buses from Mexico to smuggle 45,000 pounds of marijuana into the Denver area each year.
The value of the drugs was estimated at $36 million.
Drug cartel analyst Sylvia Longmire, author of the book "Cartel," says the arrests provide valuable information to law enforcement on how traffickers are moving drugs into Colorado.
"Any time you can gather any type of intelligence on those movements, that is always a good thing and it's a victory to be celebrated. On the downside this is probably just a hiccup. These folks will likely be replaced within a relatively short period of time," Longmire said.
Longmire says the Denver area will likely remain a drug cartel hub due to its strategic location and the continuing demand for illegal drugs.