‘We were burned,’ sheriff says
The Summit County Drug Task Force raided a Frisco condominium Sunday morning believing it would find a meth lab. It left empty-handed but with Sheriff John Minor and Frisco Police Chief Tom Wickman saying police are still suspicious, but apologetic and willing to pay for damages caused by the raid.In unit 108, a ground-floor unit, clothes are strewn throughout the bedroom of Josh Brudwick and Kate Rhodes. A mirror is broken, doors have holes, trash is piled on the floor and photos are scattered throughout the living room. The ceiling fan slaps the chilly air that pours through the living room window.It’s all Rhodes can do to refrain from crying when she thinks of Sunday’s events, which began at 10:30 a.m.The Summit County Drug Task Force, represented by Minor, Wickman and Undersheriff Derek Woodman, reported it received a tip in early March from a resident in the unit above the Brudwick-Rhodes condo about a strong odor.Police came to suspect the two were manufacturing crystal methamphetamine, a drug whose production process can be extremely odorous – and explosive, the three top police officers said in a joint interview Monday.Nine tips later – four of which were confirmed by police, two of whom became ill after checking the Brudwick-Rhodes unit 2:30 a.m. Sunday – the sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant.Police staking out the unit through the early morning hours Sunday also witnessed a man coming out of the house with a duffel bag and trash bag; he apparently spotted one of the officers and retreated into the house, Minor said. Law enforcement never found either bag.Later Sunday morning, Rhodes and Brudwick left the condo for breakfast at a restaurant called the Claimjumper. “As we pulled out of our parking lot, there was a police officer following us, and when we pulled into the Claimjumper, three officers surrounded the car,” Brudwick said. “They knew our names, they said they were going to detain us, that our car was now the property of the Frisco Police Department.”The SWAT team descended on the condo.One officer told Rhodes and Brudwick police had found “stuff” at the couple’s home, they said. The two said they had no idea what they were talking about. The two were then handcuffed, frisked and walked back to their unit.”We came around the corner and there was a full SWAT team in camouflage, a hazmat crew in full white suits and gas masks, police officers, firefighters …” Brudwick said. “They’d surrounded the building. They’d closed the parking lots.”Police poured through the condo, breaking down two doors, looking for the suspected meth lab.They tested bags of clothing found in the garage that proved positive for hydrocarbons, which can range from something as innocuous as gasoline to something as toxic as phosgene gas, the explosive byproduct of crystal meth production, police said.The police said that while Rhodes was hysterical, Brudwick was laughing – and they found nothing.Brudwick maintains the couple’s innocence.”I don’t know how they can be suspicious of anything,” he said. “I’m an upstanding citizen, I’ve lived here for 10 years, I’ve never been arrested. They are more than welcome to come back into our house, they can continue their investigation all they want; they’re never going to find anything because there’s nothing there.”Later Sunday morning, Frisco Police Officer Mark White removed the handcuffs and profusely apologized, gave the couple a card and told the couple to send the drug task force the cleanup bill.
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It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.