Two men Jefferson County prosecutors call "kingpins" of a drug trafficking cartel — moving marijuana from Mexico to the Denver area hidden on tour buses — have been been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Jose Jimenez-Chacon, 30, of El Paso, Texas, and Conrado Arellano-Casas, 32, of Arvada led an organization that brought 45,000 pounds of marijuana to the metro region each year. The tour buses dropped off hundreds of pounds each week at a warehouse in Commerce City.

Eight years of the 20-year sentence for Jimenez-Chacon was suspended on the condition he not illegally re-enter the United States for 10 years, the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office said today.

A 96-count indictment named the pair and 21 other members of their organization. Nineteen were arrested and 17 have pleaded guilty so far.

"This collaborative operation disabled a major drug-trafficking ring that was bringing $36 million worth of marijuana into the Denver area each year," Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey said in a written statement. "The West Metro Drug Task Force and the DEA did an outstanding job. With these offenders off the streets we have taken a significant step towards reducing drugs coming into our communities."