Roaring Fork Valley drug ring case sentencing postponed |

Roaring Fork Valley drug ring case sentencing postponed

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Rico Haywood

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Rico Haywood has more time before getting his punishment in his drug distribution case.

His sentencing was postponed Thursday. The latter of two alleged cocaine purchases from Haywood, 32, of Glenwood Springs, was described by the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team (TRIDENT) as the “culmination” of an undercover investigation into an alleged drug ring called “The Boys.”

TRIDENT used a confidential informant to buy “eight balls” of 3.4 grams of cocaine and 2.1 grams of cocaine from Haywood April 4 and 10, TRIDENT said in an arrest warrant affidavit.

Both times, the informant wore a wire and waited at the door to Haywood’s Glenwood Springs apartment while an intermediary went inside, TRIDENT said.

The informant’s wire apparently didn’t work during the first purchase. On the way to that purchase, “the wireless transmitter became fuzzy and then completely went out,” TRIDENT said in the affidavit.

Haywood was arrested on suspicion of eight felonies including possession with the intent to distribute cocaine.

TRIDENT said in April it arrested 30 or more suspects in what was “one of the largest drug organizations in the history of Colorado’s western slope.” TRIDENT seized more than 65 pounds of marijuana, nine pounds of cocaine, more than a pound of meth, ounces of hallucinogenic mushrooms, doses of ecstasy and LSD and a pistol in the possession of a previous offender, TRIDENT said.

Some of the suspects have entered guilty pleas and received some jail time and probation. Some of the cases are still unresolved. Information about the status of all the cases could not be obtained Thursday.

On Thursday, Nathan Gray, of Rifle, pleaded guilty to attempted possession of marijuana. TRIDENT grouped him in with the alleged drug ring, but he and family members said his arrest months earlier had nothing to do with the others and even threatened to sue local newspapers.

Another suspect, John Shertz, 33, of Basalt, received 18 months of probation Thursday. He also got 90 days of jail, 60 hours of community service plus costs and fees. He’d already spent around 50 days in jail. Shertz pleaded guilty to one felony in exchange for dismissal of three others. He was accused of selling cocaine but his attorney said he was only an intermediary between a buyer and a seller.

His attorney, Tom Silverman, said, “He was publicly identified as part of this monolithic drug organization, which did not appear from this charge, and certainly didn’t appear from the facts of this case.”

A case against a man named Michael Martinez, 45, was dismissed in July after a judge found the evidence tying him to conspiracy to sell drugs was “hearsay upon hearsay upon hearsay” with a lack of corroboration. Martinez had called the Post Independent from the Garfield County Jail multiple times insisting he was innocent, asking for help, and saying TRIDENT’s informant was accusing some of the wrong people.

TRIDENT also arrested an innocent woman as part of the drug ring. Danielle Trujillo received a $1,510 check from the District Attorney’s Office after prosecutors acknowledged in court that TRIDENT arrested the wrong Danielle Trujillo.

A longtime public defender said in court in October that one suspect’s case was “one of the flimsiest cases I’ve ever seen in this jurisdiction, and that’s saying a lot. … They’re afraid to have (the confidential informant) come in and testify.”

A prosecutor seemed to agree, saying the case against Gary Leamon McDonald was “a very weak case.”

McDonald received three years of probation, 90 days in jail, drug court and costs and fees. He’d already spent 189 days in jail. A conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine charge against him was dropped in exchange for McDonald pleading guilty to one count of meth possession.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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