High Country Crime: Growers fled during raid of 2,700-plant pot farm; Man on meth returns gunfire to no one | VailDaily.com

High Country Crime: Growers fled during raid of 2,700-plant pot farm; Man on meth returns gunfire to no one

Vail Daily staff report

A man detained during the raid of an illegal marijuana growing operation near Redstone on Thursday, Sept. 28, is in the custody of immigration officials while a decision is made on what charges will be filed, if any, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Colorado.

No information could be released Friday about the man, including where he is being held, because it’s not known yet if he will be charged, spokesman Jeff Dorschner said.

The U.S. Forest Service’s regional office said few details about the operation could be released because it is an ongoing investigation.

“What we can share is that based on the evidence we collected, we believe there were more subjects involved,” Lawrence Lujan, regional press officer for the Forest Service, said in an email.

The agency announced Thursday that an estimated 2,700 pot plants were eradicated at a 5-acre site described as just south of Redstone on the east side of the Crystal Valley.

A source familiar with the operation said that three men fled the site and escaped when federal officials conducted the raid Thursday morning. The source didn’t want to be named for lack of authorization to speak on the matter.

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The site is in rugged terrain where there is at least one official trail in the White River National Forest network nearby as well as hunters’ camps and feint trails.

“There are no restrictions in place near the growth site at this time,” Lujan said. “Law enforcement officers continue to monitor the area.”

Thursday’s raid was the third eradication of a grow operation in the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District in five years. One prior raid resulted in the destruction of 3,375 pot plants in the Crystal Valley in September 2013. The other resulted in the destruction of 2,630 pot plants in the Fryingpan Valley, east and at a higher elevation than Ruedi Reservoir, in September 2014.

—Scott Condon, The Aspen Times

MAN ON METH RETURNS FIRE ON NO ONE

A 34-year-old man, reportedly on methamphetamine, was arrested on felony charges for shooting up a trailer on Rippy Lane outside New Castle, according to the sheriff’s office. The man claimed to be returning fire in a “gunfight” after someone had shot at him, but deputies never found evidence of a second shooter.

On Sept. 19, the 34-year-old man called dispatch early in the day about a shooting, but he was uncooperative, vague and didn’t make much sense, a deputy reported.

Meeting with the deputy in person, the man said that the previous day he had gone to a couple’s house on Rippy Lane to get his dog. But he told the deputy that he believed they shot at him from their basement.

“He stated an unidentified Mexican male had (then) chased after him while he was being shot at,” the deputy reported.

He told the deputy that he got a .22 caliber rifle out of his truck and “returned fire.”

But instead of firing at the residence, the man said that he fired at a nearby trailer that belonged to a man he knew. “When asked why he shot at the trailer instead of the residence where he believed the gunfire to be coming from (he) stated he knew the trailer belonged to (his acquaintance) and knew people had been there,” according to an affidavit.

The man still wasn’t making much sense, and the deputy suspected that he had used methamphetamine. The 34-year-old said that he had used meth with (the trailer owner) the previous morning. “He advised that he had been coming down all night last night and into today,” the deputy reported.

The deputy found a tube-fed semi-automatic .22 rifle in his truck. He noted carbon residue on the rifle’s bolt, which indicated to him that it had been fired.

The trailer owner said that he had given the 34-year-old some items in return for helping him move some property, but initially denied any knowledge of methamphetamine. He “advised the last time he had used methamphetamine was the previous day with a friend but would not identify the party,” the deputy wrote.

The 34-year-old was arrested on felony criminal mischief, as well as misdemeanors for disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment and prohibited use of a weapon.

—Ryan Summerlin, Glenwood Springs Post-Independent

OAK CREEK POLICE ASK FOR HELP IDENTIFYING SUSPECT WHO ALLEGEDLY STOLE 500 PILLS FROM DRUG STORE

The Oak Creek Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying the person who burglarized a drug store.

Routt County Crime Stoppers is offering a $300 reward for information that leads to the suspect being identified.

Bonfiglio’s Drug Store at 118 W. Main St. in Oak Creek was burglarized at about 12:30 p.m. April 16.

One male broke into the store and stole prescription drugs. The pill bottles were white, about 6 inches tall and 3 inches in diameter.

The bottles were full and had 500 tablets each.

The labels have a tannish/yellow background with darker tan bands and black lettering.

The suspect is described as having shoulder-length blond hair and was wearing blue jeans.

Police believe the man might have had an accomplice.

Surveillance video shows a vehicle circling the area before and at the time of the burglary.

The vehicle was a white, four-door hatchback or station wagon.

Police think it resembles a newer Ford Focus or Fusion station wagon, and there is possibly damage to the front passenger fender and possibly the rear passenger door.

People with tips can remain anonymous by calling 970-870-6226.

Tips can also be sent via text message by texting NABM, followed by the tip to 274637 (crimes).

A confirmation text message will then be received if the text was received successfully.

People can also call the Oak Creek Police Department at 970-736-8355 or email kspencer@townofoakcreek.com.

—Matt Stensland, Steamboat Today

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