A total of 16 people were arrested throughout Otero County in a drug bust Monday.

A total of 16 people were arrested throughout Otero County in a drug bust Monday.

The 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force, and several other agencies including the Otero County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Inspector General’s Office, Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Colorado State Patrol, Crowley County Sheriff’s Office, Bent County Sheriff’s Office, Rocky Ford Police Department, and La Junta Police Department, and the Rocky Ford Fire Department executed search warrants related to narcotics trafficking in the Rocky Ford area.

The Drug Task Force has put in a great number of hours over the past several weeks building these cases, and their hard work has really paid off. Eleven arrests were made at the various locations, narcotics seized, and arrest warrants have been issued for several more persons of interest in Otero and Crowley counties. Officers from the Rocky Ford Police Department arrested three additional suspects later that afternoon, and deputies from the Otero County Sheriff’s Office arrested an additional two suspects in Rocky Ford and Manzanola, bringing the total number of arrests to 16 for the operation.

The endeavor included 57 officers from the various jurisdictions affected by the drug trade throughout the Arkansas Valley and including the correctional facilities, and was the largest joint operation conducted in this area to the knowledge of Sheriff Shawn Mobley, who was incident Commander of the operation. Department heads from the involved agencies formed the incident command team, which included Otero County Sheriff Shawn Mobley, Bent County Sheriff Dave Encinias, Crowley County Sheriff John "Smokey" Kurtz , Chief Mickey Bethel of the Rocky Ford Police Department, Chief Todd Quick of the La Junta Police Department, and Captain Tim Knabenshue of the Colorado State Patrol, which helped coordinate the large-scale operation.

"Bringing all the law enforcement players together really exemplifies the focus that local agencies are putting into combating the drug problem, which has had a dramatic effect on all of our communities, and sends a clear message that we are dedicated to addressing the problem head-on," Mobley said.

"I would like to personally thank the members of the Drug Task force, which includes members from the Otero County Sheriff’s Office, Rocky Ford PD, La Junta PD, and the DA’s Office, for all of their hard work and dedication," Mobley added.

Law enforcement reminds people that the mere fact that a warrant has been issued does not suggest or imply that the person named in the warrant is guilty of any crime or offense; and all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.