Friday night felonies
AVON, Colorado – If John Clark hadn’t allegedly led police on a high speed chase through Avon and Edwards, Craig Fruth might not be in jail.
Avon police had just finished chasing down Clark late Friday night, through parking lots and side streets from Avon to Edwards and back, running him down when he abandoned his car outside Avon’s Liftview Apartments and tried to escape on foot.
As they were wrapping up with Clark, Avon Police Lt. Greg Daly was on his way in, to make sure everyone was OK. He happened upon Fruth heading east on I-70 through Wolcott and allegedly weaving like an Egyptian rug maker.
Daly thought Fruth might be driving drunk, so he pulled him over.
Fruth told him his truck was having mechanical difficulties.
Daly said he was skeptical, mostly because Fruth was driving a diesel pickup but there was so much marijuana that Daly could smell it even through all the diesel fumes.
So Daly called for some backup in the person of Tucker the drug-sniffing dog, a 7-year-old German Shepherd police dog that really loves his work. Tucker was accompanied by Tim Comroe, one of the K-9 deputies with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, who is equally enthusiastic.
Tucker weighs 90 pounds and really loves his work. When officers started unloading the back of Fruth’s pickup, Tucker’s interest was piqued in ways you have to see to believe.
Wedged in the front of the bed between two motorcycles and a bunch of other stuff, they found a large black duffle bag.
Tucker performed what is called a “positive alert,” indicating he’d found some drugs. He scratches the area where the drugs are when he finds them.
A dog’s nose is 1,000 times more sensitive than a human’s, and Comroe has trained Tucker to recognize the odors of six different drugs: marijuana, mushrooms, XTC, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.
Police say Fruth was hauling the Tucker trifecta.
Fruth was hauling about 13 pounds of high-grade marijuana, 6 ounces of black tar heroine, a bunch of pills, paraphernalia, vacuum-sealing machines and recloseable plastic bags, police say.
It appears it was grown in a hydroponics operation – no seeds or stems and very high potency, said Avon police chief Bob Ticer.
The ditch weed grown outside in most places is worth about $500 a pound. This marijuana is worth about $3,000 a pound; $300-$600 an ounce if you break it down that way, Ticer said.
The marijuana seized on Friday is estimated with a street value between $20,000 and $30,000. The heroin is worth between $6,000 and $10,000.
It comes into the U.S. either through Mexico or a West Coast seaport and is trucked along Interstate 70 to major cities on the East Coast or Midwest.
Drug traffickers use America’s east/west interstate highways as a major part of their distribution system. The further east drugs go the more they’re worth, Ticer said.
The drugs go east, the money comes back west to drug cartels, then the cycle begins again.
“The money goes right back to the cartels to fund organized crime and terrorist organizations,” Ticer said. “When people think of marijuana, or medical marijuana, they don’t think of cartels, but the cartels certainly do think of them.”
For his part, Fruth was driving a 2006 white Dodge dually 1-ton pickup truck, headed east along I-70.
Speaking of headed east and west, Clark started all this when he allegedly refused to pull over for Avon Police Officer Ed Moran, who spotted him weaving. Clark sped west on Highway 6 toward Edwards, through some shopping center parking lots and lower Homestead, and then turned around and hot-footed his way back to Avon. By this time, he was being chased by Avon police, Vail police, the Colorado State Patrol and Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies.
He abandoned his car and tried to run on foot. After a quick search, officers found him hiding near Avon’s Liftview Apartments, police said.
Both Clark and Fruth were arraigned Monday in Judge Katharine Sullivan’s Eagle County Court. Clark was already on probation and under a restraining order. He’s Clark is being held in the Eagle County Jail on $30,000 cash bond. Fruth is being held on $50,000.
“Our officers are dedicated to keeping our communities safe as exemplified by the diligence and hard work of our team this past Friday,” Ticer said. “The removal of these dangerous drivers from our highways and streets and the seizure of large quantities of dangerous drugs contribute to a safer community for everyone.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.