Snowmass pot sting nabs two locals, 11.5 pounds
Two local residents face felony drug possession charges after authorities allegedly found 11.5 pounds of marijuana in a package that was addressed to a Snowmass Village post office box in one of their names.
Vaughn Barnett, 27, and Drew Kirvida, 19, both of Snowmass, were detained by Snowmass police Tuesday after the two showed up at the town’s post office to pick up a box that contained the pot, said Sgt. Brian Olson. Both suspects were booked into the Pitkin County Jail last night on bonds of $7,500.
Each suspect faces possession of more than 5 pounds of marijuana, a class-four felony, and the class-five felony of conspiracy, Olson said. The package was addressed to Kirvida, but it’s believed Barnett played a role in its possession, Olson said.
According to Olson, about one week ago, a postal official became suspicious of the package, which was sent through the U.S. Postal Service. Olson said he did not know if the box had been detected by postal officials in Denver, Aspen or Snowmass.
Whatever the case, the postal official noticed that “the package was slightly damaged and that revealed some of its content,” Olson said. The package also emitted a strong odor of marijuana, he said.
The postal employee who discovered the package contacted a postal service inspector from Denver, Olson said.
Police, meanwhile, obtained a search warrant for the package, but were unable to execute it until the two suspects were detained, Olson said. While the two suspects were in custody, the box was opened and revealed the contents, which appeared to be marijuana. Olson said the substance will be tested.
Law enforcement officials had expected Barnett and Kirvida to arrive at the post office Tuesday. That’s because one of them had contacted the post office last week about the whereabouts of the package, Olson said. The suspect was told it would arrive Tuesday, so officials set up a sting operation at the post office.
As the two left the post office, they were approached by postal inspectors in the parking lot, who had guns drawn.
“That’s not untypical,” Olson said. “People might not think marijuana is that big a deal, but you never know what’s going to happen with a person who’s about to be arrested.”
Postal inspectors did not detain the suspects. Instead, they contacted Snowmass police, who were anticipating the call.
“As soon as [the postal inspectors] made contact with the [suspects], they called the Snowmass Police Department, and we had an officer ready and available,” Olson said. “We knew it was going down.”
Pitkin County Deputy District Attorney would not talk specifically about the case, but said, “Eleven pounds of marijuana is a class-four felony.” He added while the case could be handled in either federal court or state court, officials with the U.S. Postal Service handed it over to local authorities.
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