Drug bust just the beginning
Western Garfield County Staff
PARACHUTE ” A major drug bust in late May could be just the beginning for the growing Parachute Police Department.
Officer Jeff Wells got a call from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office on May 19. A drug dog sniffed out an empty duffel bag in the trunk of a car deputies pulled over. Since the bag was empty, the driver was released. But Mesa County sheriff’s officers followed the car to the Super 8 Motel in Parachute, where the driver met up with someone else.
Parachute police joined Mesa County police at the motel, searched the other vehicle and recovered 151 pounds of marijuana.
William Morgan and Anthony Keane of Florida were charged with possession with the intent to distribute. Crossing the state line with drugs would make the suspects special offenders. Parachute police contacted the federal prosecutor, but while the case is big for Parachute, it’s small potatoes on a national scale, and the prosecutor left it to the local authorities.
The 151 pounds of marijuana is in storage in the Parachute evidence locker.
“There isn’t room for anything else in there,” Wells said.
He said he’d never seen so much marijuana: “Only on TV,” Wells said.
He said the department usually stores drug evidence until after the trial and then destroys it in a small burn barrel outside of the office. Not this time.
“It’s too much. The whole town of Parachute would be getting silly,” Wells said. “We’ll find some place. The State Patrol used to incinerate it, but the amount was too overwhelming.”
Wells said he expects this type of drug bust will become more common for the Parachute Police Department.
“I think we’ll see more of this,” Wells said. “I think it’s been happening just because I-70 is right here. But we haven’t had enough officers to track it.”
The Parachute Police Department has six officers. The force has been that size for about a year, but Wells said the department is stronger now than ever before.
“We had a lot of turnover,” Wells said. “Now we have a lot of really good officers who are going to stay with the department.”
He thinks the department will be more vigilant about catching drug traffickers now, Wells said.
“We’re getting more training in drug interdiction, and I think we’ll be doing a lot more of it,” Wells said.
The Parachute police department became a 24-hour department June 1, said chief Dave Higuera. Before June 1, officers would go home between 2 and 3 a.m. and be on call through the early morning hours.
“The demand is there,” Higuera said. “There’s been an increase in calls after 2 or 3 in the morning, mostly alcohol-related.”
The department also hopes to add another position, a resource officer for the middle and high school. At the end of the school year in Parachute, police spent a lot of time in the schools. Garfield County School District No. 16 has approached the department about hiring an officer to work in the schools. The district would pay for the officer, but the department could call him out to the field if it needed him.
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