Teen faces felony charges for pot vape pen incident at Basalt High School

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times
Post Independent crime news graphic

A 19-year-old who entered Basalt High School on Tuesday and allegedly gave a marijuana vape pen to four students who used it in the bathroom was charged with five felonies Thursday.

In addition, Ivan Henriquez Lopez, who is on probation for providing a pellet gun to a minor less than a year ago, could face decades in prison for the alleged drug offenses because they took place on school property, a prosecutor said.

The incident came to the attention of school officials Tuesday afternoon, when a student reported smelling a strong odor of marijuana coming from the girl’s bathroom near the high school’s front entrance, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.

School officials checked the school’s surveillance cameras, which recorded two female students letting Lopez into the school through an east entrance. Three female students later told a Basalt police officer that Lopez gave them the vape pen and each used it in the bathroom. A fourth girl in the bathroom also used the pen, according to the affidavit.

Lopez never attempted to enter the bathroom and kept himself hidden near the school’s band room until the girls returned the vape pen to him.

Lopez later admitted giving the pen to the girls and said he received it from a friend in Aspen, the affidavit states.

“Mr. Henriquez Lopez told me he frequently uses marijuana to help him sleep,” the officer wrote in the affidavit.

Lopez was expelled from Basalt Public Schools last school year, the affidavit states. No reason for the expulsion was provided in the affidavit.

He was charged with two counts of distribution of marijuana to a minor while on a school campus, two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and burglary, which are all felonies. He was also charged with criminal trespassing, reckless endangerment and interference with school staff, which are misdemeanors.

If the District Attorney’s Office decides to designate Lopez a “special offender,” he could face between eight and 32 years in prison because the marijuana offenses occurred on school property, said Deputy District Attorney Don Nottingham.

District Judge Chris Seldin ordered Lopez held in lieu of a $5,000 cash or surety bond. If he posts bond, he will not be allowed within 100 yards of Basalt High School and cannot have contact with people under the age of 18 who are not family members, the judge said.

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