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December 19, 2012
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Drug bust an undercover operation

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Undercover drug agents bought drugs and guns numerous times, sometimes from the same alleged dealers here and in Carbondale, in the course of a nine-month investigation that has led to 16 arrests so far.

Some 40 officers from area law enforcement agencies, working for the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team (TRIDENT), arrested 14 suspected dealers, including two juveniles, in a mass roundup on Dec. 12.

Two more of the 21 suspects identified in the investigation subsequently turned themselves in, after learning of outstanding warrants for their arrests.

Meeting in such places as Sopris Park and the 7-Eleven in Carbondale, or an alleyway next to a medical marijuana center and the 800 block of Blake Avenue in Glenwood Springs, the agents purchased cocaine, pot, psilocybin mushrooms and MDMA, which used to be popularly known as "ecstasy."

The agents also purchased a .38 caliber Taurus revolver and at least one other firearm as part of the sweep.

An examination of four arrest-warrant affidavits, written by Garfield County sheriff's deputies and filed with the court, reveals that the agents, working for TRIDENT and using TRIDENT money, often would run into multiple suspects while conducting an undercover drug purchase.

According to an affidavit filed in the case of Evance Zimbalist Grandberry, 22, of Carbondale, Grandberry allegedly sold cocaine twice to undercover drug agents - a quarter-ounce on May 4, 2012, and another quarter-ounce on Oct. 11.

The sales allegedly involving Grandberry were to the same team of agents both times, once at Sopris Park and a second time at the Carbondale 7-Eleven.

Grandberry also is alleged to have sold a gram of MDMA, again to the same two agents, on Oct. 18 at the 7-Eleven.

And on Oct. 30, he is alleged to have been behind a sale of three grams of cocaine to agents at Sopris Park. While two other suspects - Daniel Carlo Saparita, 20, and Mario Ruiz-Alvarado, 19, both of Carbondale - allegedly handled the sale, the agents believed the drugs had come from Grandberry, according to the affidavit.

Both Grandberry and Ruiz-Alvarado have been arrested, but Saparita remained at large as of Tuesday morning, according to Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson, who is the chair of the TRIDENT board of directors.

TRIDENT agents also met more than once with Matthew Tenzie Ameral, 19, of Basalt, for alleged purchases of psilocybin mushrooms.

According to the affidavit in Ameral's case file, he met with agents on Aug. 14 at the Carbondale 7-Eleven, and on Sept. 28 at Sopris Park, to allegedly sell them small amounts of mushrooms.

Agents met with Hugo Cesar Delgado-Montano, 19, of Carbondale, twice in Glenwood Springs, on July 17 and July 19, after setting up meetings for alleged marijuana buys.

The agents and Delgado-Montano allegedly met on both occasions in an alleyway adjacent to the GNS medical marijuana center, 716 Grand Ave., according to the affidavit.

The agents waited outside, while Delgado-Montano, who possessed a medical marijuana card, allegedly went inside to make purchases on both occasions, according to the affidavit.

The agents later met Delgado-Montano in the 800 block of Blake Avenue in Glenwood Springs, where he allegedly sold them a .38 caliber Taurus revolver that had been reported stolen in Basalt in May.

TRIDENT officers also seized what was described as an assault rifle during the Dec. 12 roundup, and perhaps more guns.

Two of the defendants arrested in the Dec. 12 roundup, Carlos Emmanuel Pimentel-Herrera, 20, of Carbondale and Sergio Daniel Ledezma-Larranaga, 18, of New Castle, are also on "hold" orders from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to spokeswoman Tanny McGinnis of the Garfield County Sheriff's Office.

Pimentel-Herrera is being held on a $52,000 bond on four counts of possession and distribution of cocaine, while Ledezma-Larranaga is being held in lieu of $5,000 bond, according to the jail's website.

Either man may pay his bond and be released from the sheriff's custody pending trial, but then could be turned over to ICE for prosecution on immigration-related charges.

Several of the defendants from the roundup are due in court today for the formal filing of criminal charges.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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The Post Independent Updated Dec 19, 2012 01:18AM Published Dec 19, 2012 01:17AM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.