DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION, PUEBLO COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY, PUEBLO COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, PUEBLO POLICE DEPARTMENT, COLORADO STAE PATROL, AND UNITED STATES POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE JOIN FORCES TO HALT MAJOR METHAMPETHAMINE DRUG TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION
April 18, 2014: Joint News Release — Barbra M. Roach, the Special Agent-in-Charge (SAC) of the Denver Division Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Pueblo District Attorney Jeff Chostner, Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor, Denver Division Postal Inspector in Charge Adam P. Behnen, and Pueblo Police Chief Luis Velez announced today that on April 11, 2014, investigators from the DEA Colorado Springs Resident Office, DEA San Francisco, DEA Albuquerque, Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, Pueblo Police Department, and the United States Postal Service arrested 7 individuals, conducted 8 search warrants, seized approximately 2 pounds of methamphetamine, 13 firearms (7 of which were reported stolen), 16 vehicles, and recovered approximately $5,000 in U.S. currency.
“Investigators have uncovered and interrupted an international drug-smuggling ring that trafficked methamphetamine from Mexico to California and Colorado,” said SAC Roach. “In total, we have seized 66 pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of over $3,000,000 and removed 13 firearms from the streets of Pueblo County. This is an excellent example of what can be accomplished by agencies cooperating across jurisdictional lines.”
Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor stated that a multi-faceted approach is necessary in this type of investigation. “”Our focus on illicit drug activity is intense. We are participants in the DEA regional task force, our agency’s narcotics unit is working at full steam, and our community continues to make a difference by reporting suspicious activity. This bust is a combination of that approach and we are thrilled to have been an integral part of the takedown, we will see a difference on the streets because of it.”
“Postal inspectors will continue to investigate individuals who ship illicit drugs and related proceeds through the U.S. Mail,” said Adam P. Behnen, Inspector in Charge, of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Denver Division. “We take these cases very seriously, and they are priority investigations for us. We are appreciative of the collaborative effort with our law enforcement partners – the Drug Enforcement Administration, Pueblo District Attorney’s Office, Pueblo Police Department, Pueblo County Sheriff’s Department, and Colorado State Patrol.”
Pueblo Police Chief Luis Velez remarked that a collaborative approach is one of the successful strategies that law enforcement can employ in fighting the illegal trafficking of drugs. “None of us individually could have brought this case to its conclusion; however, together we become a formidable force. The amounts of drugs that are being brought into Pueblo are staggering; this particular case highlights the ongoing need to keep these substances off of our streets and in identifying those individuals who continue to take part in and encourage these drug operations.”
Beginning in April 2013, the Colorado Springs Resident Office (CSRO) received information regarding a narcotics trafficking organization operating in Pueblo, Colorado. During the ensuing investigation, investigators identified several co-conspirators, vehicles, and addresses in the Pueblo area which were being utilized by this multi-state drug trafficking organization in furtherance of their illegal activities.
During this operation, investigators obtained arrests warrants and were assisted by DEA agents in San Francisco, California, in arresting Henry LOYA, a cell head, who was identified as a source of supply for the Pueblo Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO). Furthermore, DEA agents and TFO’s in Albuquerque, New Mexico, assisted by arresting Anthony CARO who is a cell head in Pueblo. CARO’s arrest was made in conjunction with a traffic stop on a load vehicle that was traveling from Las Vegas, Nevada. The subsequent search of the vehicle resulted in the seizure of approximately two pounds of methamphetamine and the arrest of the driver.
Upon their arrests, Investigators executed a series of search warrants in Pueblo with the assistance of the Pueblo Police Department, the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Postal Inspection Service that resulted in the seizure of methamphetamine, U.S. currency, firearms, and vehicles.
• July 19, 2013 – $79,940 USC seized during traffic stop in Pueblo County.
• October 31, 2013 – 20 pounds of methamphetamine seized during traffic stop in Pueblo County.
• March 14, 2014 – 28 pounds of methamphetamine seized by DEA and the U.S. Postal Service.
• March 15, 2014 – 15 pounds of methamphetamine and 189 grams of heroin seized during a traffic stop in Pueblo County.
• April 14, 2014 – Seizure of 13 firearms, to include 4 assault rifles and one ballistic vest from Pueblo.
The culmination of this investigation resulted in the total seizure of 66 pounds of methamphetamine, 189.3 gross grams of heroin, $111,000 in U.S. currency and the seizure of 16 vehicles that have an estimated value of approximately $250,000 and 13 firearms. The DEA Colorado Springs Resident Office would like to extend our appreciation to DEA San Francisco, DEA Albuquerque, the 10th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the Pueblo Police Department, the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, and the United States Postal Inspection Service for their assistance with this operation.
The CSRO/Southern Colorado Drug Task Force is comprised of personnel from the DEA, Colorado Springs P.D., Pueblo P.D., El Paso County S.O., Pueblo County S.O., Florence P.D., Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Colorado State Patrol, and HIDTA.
April 18, 2014: On April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pueblo law agencies and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its eighth opportunity in three years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Bring your pills for disposal to several sites throughout Pueblo County. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
Last October, Americans turned in 324 tons (over 647,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at over 4,114 sites operated by the DEA and its thousands of state and local law enforcement partners. When those results are combined with what was collected in its seven previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 3.4 million pounds—more than 1,700 tons—of pills.
Pueblo Police Department –Pueblo Municipal Justice Center, 200 S Main St
Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office – Pueblo West Substation, 320 E Joe Martinez Blvd
Pueblo Rural Fire Station #1 – 24941 Highway 50 E
Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office – Colorado City Substation, 4497 Bent Brothers Blvd
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.
For additional information feel free to contact either agency or visit www.dea.com for details about the program.
April 17, 2014: Two Pueblo West schools have been the target of burglars in recent weeks. On March 30th just after midnight, two suspects broke into Liberty Point Elementary School at the 300 block of east Hahns Peak and stole several items amounting to over $500. The next day, April 1st, at approximately the same time, the two are again caught on video walking the hallways of Liberty Point Elementary.
Just after midnight yesterday, Wednesday April 16th, what appears to be the same two suspects, entered Swallows Charter Academy by forcing open a door. Although only in the building a short amount of time before a custodian spotted them, the two managed to steal some cash from a desk inside the office. Less than an hour after they were chased from the charter school, they forced their way into Liberty Point Elementary for the third time in as many weeks. Alarms immediately sent the two fleeing from the school.
Pueblo County Sheriff’s deputies believe the same two suspects committed all four burglaries. “All District 70 Schools have surveillance systems and school officials have been a great partner in this investigation. They have given us the video from these crimes and have made their staff and schools available to us,” said Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Law Enforcement Captain David Lucero, “Unfortunately, there isn’t much to go on in the video or at the schools so our next steps depend on the citizens in our community. We believe there might be enough detail in the clothing the two have been wearing during the burglaries that someone might recognize them and call us. It is also likely the two have talked about these crimes to others, we’d like to hear from those people too.”
While deputies don’t suspect the two are up to anything other than breaking and entering and theft, Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor knows this can be unnerving to parents in the district, “Safety is the number one concern of both our agency and the school district. The sooner we can identify these two, the sooner the families in the area can feel secure.”
The two are believed to be males in their late teens, between 5’07-6’0 and weigh between 125-175 pounds. They wear dark clothing during the incidents including black shoes with white soles. One carries a grey and black pack and the other carries a black backpack with a bright, almost neon green piece of tape or cloth on the top of one shoulder strap. Additionally, one wears a dark grey hoodie with a skull, possibly a “SkullCandy” logo on the front and the other wears a mask that has a smile or grin painted on in white. Anyone with information on these burglaries is encouraged to contact the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office at 719/583-6250 or Pueblo Crimestoppers at 719/544-STOP (7867).
April 14, 2014
April 14, 2014: Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor escorted a very special visitor through the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Services Center today. US Congressman Scott Tipton is in Pueblo and visited the new Emergency Services Center this afternoon. Aside from touring the Emergency Operations and Joint Information Centers, Sheriff Taylor introduced Congressman Tipton to the 911 Operators on duty in the 911 Center. They, along with dispatchers across the country, are celebrating National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.
Telecommunicators Week is one set aside annually by Presidential Declaration to honor the work done by 911 centers and their staff throughout the year. The Pueblo County 911 Center is one of two 911 centers in Pueblo County, the other is managed by the City of Pueblo Police Department. Additional public safety call centers exist at the Colorado Mental Health Institute of Pueblo and the Colorado State Patrol Office. While only two of the centers answer 911 calls, each has the responsibility of handling phone calls and radio traffic with the safety of people and property at risk.
“These men and woman are our front line. People decide how professional, dedicated, and capable we are based on the interactions they have with our 911 center. We have a great team and their skills are top notch” said Sheriff Taylor of the 17 operators that staff the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Communications Center.
Congressman Tipton was also very complementary of the work 911 Operators across the state perform, “This is a position that requires hard work but often goes without appreciation,” Tipton said to Communications Manager Tim Nawrocki, “I am glad to be here today, to meet your team, and to see your impressive center.”
The 911 Center for Pueblo County moved into the state of the art PCSO Emergency Services Center last month. The team has been focused on learning the new technology since April and will be participating in the federally evaluated CSEPP Exercise in May.
April 11, 2014
April 11, 2014: This Wednesday, Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit arrested 29 year-old, parolee Carlos Valdez on multiple felony charges. The arrest was made after Pueblo Parole called PCSO in to assist with an ongoing investigation into Valdez. Parole had been surveilling a mobile home on the 5000 Block of Red Creek Springs Road since they placed Valdez on Escape status through their office.
At the time of his arrest, Valdez had a large sum of money in his possession. Recovered from inside the home was a Walther P-22 semi-automatic handgun that had been reported stolen in the city of Pueblo. Investigators also seized over $3000.00 in cash and more than three grams of Heroin. 31 year-old Marquisa Ann Valdez, Carlos’ wife, was taken into custody as well.
Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor knows the partnership between state and local agencies has evolved into a necessity for public safety. “We have an excellent working relationship with the local parole office. I am concerned about the state’s early releases from prison reoffending in communities across the state and ending up in local jails” says Sheriff Taylor, who has been working with other local leaders to identify solutions to the problems these offenders create.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Valdez have been charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Aside from his Parole hold and the distribution charges, Carlos has been booked on theft, possession of a weapon by an offender, and special offender charges associated with the circumstances of the arrest. He is currently on Parole Hold in Pueblo County Jail.
April 6, 2014
We are working to repair our jail lines, until then citizens can call 719 696 4248 for intake. Non emergency and 911 are functioning fine.
April 5, 2014
April 5, 2014: The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit has been investigating a home on the 1000 block of Linda Avenue for over six months. The investigation confirmed illegal activity at the home. The unit was able to obtain a search warrant based on the investigation. At approximately 8:00 pm yesterday detectives arrived to execute the search warrant.
Arrested were 51 year-old Steven Wilson, 39 year-old Shane Smith, and 35 year-old Kimberlie Verigan. The three will be charged with felony counts related to the search. In addition, each had a previous felony conviction and/or outstanding warrants for their arrest. Verigan’s outstanding charges included two Department of Corrections escape warrants. Smith is currently on probation. The home owner, Steven Wilson, had multiple arrest warrants from Pueblo and El Paso Counties. Any new felony charges will include special offender charges because each was a convicted felon, prohibited from possessing weapons and controlled substances.
Once the scene was secure and all three were in custody, detectives were able to search the home. During the search they discovered Methamphetamine, digitals scales, US Currency, boxes of live ammunition, knives, machetes, semi-automatic handguns and shotguns. Every gun found was loaded with live rounds in the chamber.
Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor knows the risks associated with entry during a search warrant execution. “This was a tough entry, every gun loaded and ready to fire, some with-in arms reach of the suspects”, said Taylor “The narcotics unit works with precision and as a team and that shows in their continued safety and success.”
All three have been booked into Pueblo County Detention Center pending court appearance.
March 25, 2014
March 25, 2014: Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office is taking applications for the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Law Enforcement- Citizens Academy. The PCSO Citizen’s Academy will cover many subjects, all related to the day-to-day operations of the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office.
Participants in the academy will be instructed in a variety of topics to include:
• Introduction to the PCSO
• Patrol Operations
• Detention Operations
• Emergency Services Operations
• School Resources/Dare Officers
• Tactical Team Operations
• Criminal Investigations
• Crime Scene Investigations
• K-9 Teams
• Explorer Program
• CSO Program
• Sheriff’s Posse
The classes will be held from 6:00pm to 9:00 pm every Tuesday and Thursday at the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Services Center, 101 W 10th St. The 4-week-long academy is FREE and begins April 22, 2014. A wide variety of instructors will be on hand, each a subject matter expert in their field. Participants who complete the academy will keep the Sheriff’s Academy manual, receive a graduation certificate, a t-shirt, and a department pin as part of a graduation ceremony. They will also graduate with a very specific knowledge set proved beneficial to future PCSO employees and volunteers.
Sheriff Kirk M Taylor is pleased to offer the academy to the community. “The education this series of classes provides gives a real behind the scenes look at this agency; our challenges, our commitments, and our procedures. It is an important part of our responsibility to offer that perspective. The biggest benefit though is for us. Building relationships in the community, encouraging interest in what we do, and having positive interactions with citizens revitalizes us all.”
The popularity of the Academy has increased over the years and it does have a limited class size. Additional information and applications can be obtained at any of our offices or on-line at www.pueblosheriff.com. Anyone with questions can contact Stefana Adcock 583-6438 for more information. Deadline for applications is April 16th.
March 12, 2014
March 12, 2014: Pueblo Rural Fire Department and Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office has evacuated an area around the intersection of Santa Fe Dr and Eagle due to a gas leak. Construction crews have been working on the roads in the area for the past several days and reported to 911 that they hit a gas line at approximately 10:00 AM this morning during digging operations.
Once firefighters arrived, they immediately asked for a ¼ mile evacuation of the area. The evacuation includes several businesses including Mission Foods.
Deputies and Colorado State Patrol Troopers have blocked Santa Fe, eastbound at Aspen and westbound at 20th Lane as a precaution.
No injuries have been reported but American Medical Response is on standby until the gas company can seal the leak.
“Crews are in place and are assessing the situation. They will take care of whatever needs to be fixed as soon as possible” says Kathy Worthington, Public Information Officer for Xcel Energy.
Citizens are asked to avoid the area while crews work to resolve the situation.