Authorities: Driver sped at 100 mph, claimed tie to ‘Mexican mafia’ |

Authorities: Driver sped at 100 mph, claimed tie to ‘Mexican mafia’

Daniel Lee Happle
Staff Photo |

The Rifle man caught with Gypsum shooting suspect Jesus Manuel Miranda Jr. will face his own laundry list of charges after he led police on a 100 mph chase down Highway 6 on the night of Sept. 4.

According to his arrest affidavit, Daniel Happle, 38, told police that “the ‘Mexican mafia’ had called him and told him to pick up Jesus Miranda and give him a ride.” When a Garfield County deputy tried to pull him over for an expired plate near New Castle, he ran for it.

Miranda is charged with first-degree attempted murder, first-degree robbery, three other felonies and a misdemeanor in Friday’s robbery of an Eagle clothing store.

Happle, whose license was revoked as a habitual traffic offender, accelerated up to 50 mph in a 20 mph zone through New Castle before turning west on Highway 6 and ramping up to 100 mph, the officer wrote in the affidavit. Near Coal Ridge High School, he reportedly decelerated to around 10 mph and took off on foot, leaving Miranda in the slowly moving car.

Once a deputy managed to pull the car’s brake, Miranda identified himself as Roberto Neveraz, of whom there was no record.

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When Happle was sniffed out nearby by Glenwood Springs’ K9 unit, police noted the apparent odor of alcohol. Upon questioning, Happle also told them he had eaten a bag of methamphetamine during the pursuit, according to the affidavit.

Happle was arrested on suspicion of vehicular eluding, tampering with physical evidence, possession of weapons by a previous offender, driving while revoked as a habitual offender and accessory to a crime, all felonies, as well as driving under the influence, reckless driving, expired plates and obstructing government operations.

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario declined to speculate on whether Happle was actually operating on orders from organized crime.

“In my experience, guys we’ve arrested make all sorts of assertions,” he said.

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