Sting operation nets six drug busts
Undercover cops mingling with revelling fans at a concert by popular rock band String Cheese Incident hauled half a dozen men off to jail Monday and Tuesday after the men allegedly sold them narcotics.Many fans of the Colorado Ojam band1 String Cheese Incident follow the band across the country from concert to concert. And the rollicking festival fans throw before and during the shows is as big a draw as the band itself.And Monday and Tuesday night in Vail was no different. Droves of fans began partying in the Lionshead parking garage before the show, selling food, crafts<and, according to police, narcotics, such as hashish and marijuana.3It was like an open-air market, Vail police Sgt. Mike Warren said.Following troubles with fans during the band1s performance in Vail last year, Vail police stepped up enforcement for this week1s pair of concerts, Warren said.3Because we had problems last year with the String Cheese concerts with narcotics and property damage, a task force got together and performed various operations in and around the Lionshead parking structure, Warren said.3Undercover officers made purchases and arrests were made, both nights, he said.The task force comprised Vail police officers and Eagle County sheriff1s deputies who went undercover to buy narcotics from fans. Officers, in most cases, did not have to seek out the suspected dealers, Warren said.3A lot of the undercover officers were approached, Warren said. 3We could1ve made a lot more arrests.Because fans of String Cheese Incident<much like fans of the Grateful Dead<wear tie-died and other 60s style 3hippie clothing, undercover officers tried to fit in, Warren said.3The officers definitely fit into the mold, said Warren, who wouldn1t further describe his colleagues1 dress.While some of the suspects were discreet, others made deals with officers out in the open, Warren said.On Tuesday night, three men were arrested in and around the Lionshead parking garage:? Steven Sullivan, 19, on suspicion of distributing and possessing marijuana.? Kazimir Wisniewski, 20, on suspicion of distributing and possessing hashish and possessing marijuana.? Stephan Zizzo, 19, on suspicion of possessing cocaine and mushrooms.Also on Tuesday night, uniformed patrol officers in Vail not working with the narcotics task force made five additional arrests for crimes ranging from disorderly conduct and drug possession to assault.On Monday, three other men were arrested by undercover narcotics officers:? Robert Judge, 28, on suspicion of distributing hashish.? David West, 20, on suspicion of distributing marijuana.? Bryan Crawford, 24, in suspicion of distributing hashish.Patrol officers Monday night arrested five others for underage drinking, drunk driving and vandalism.3Word was going out around the crowd that the police were around, Warren said. 3We1re hoping that stemmed what was going on.Matt Zalaznick covers public safety, Eagle County Courts and Avon/ Beaver Creek. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555 ext. 606 or via e-mail at email@example.com.