The Woodland Park Police and scores of law officers made another key development in their investigation of a huge heroin trafficking ring linked to major suppliers in the area and even a Mexican drug cartel.
On Thursday, law officers arrested 20-year-old Ian Michael Forbes of Divide on suspicion of third-degree felony drug charges. The apprehension of Forbes occurred in Woodland Park without incident, according to Woodland Park Police Commander Jim Halloran.
Forbes was identified by authorities as one of four “primary heroin dealers” in the area. Another three dealers, according to Halloran, had already been previously arrested. Information provided by the police indicated that Forbes had heroin business connections with as many as 14 people, as part of the drug trafficking ring and network, which actually had alleged supply ties with a Mexican cartel.
But police officials say the investigation, involving six agencies with the Metro Vice and Narcotics Division, is far from other, with 25 more suspects statewide. The participating agencies include detectives and officers from the Woodland Park Police, Teller County Sheriff’s Department, Colorado Springs Police Department, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, 4th Judicial Office District Attorney’s Office and Fountain Police Department.
The investigation started last fall, with reports circulated of an increased use in heroin use in the area. This parallels trends in other communities across the country. It is attributed to a nationwide surge in heroin addiction over the last five years, fueled partially by the popularity of a new class of opioids, such as OxyContin and other prescription drugs. Gone are the days when heroin was perceived as a ghetto drug or a substance used by mainly African-Americans or famous musicians.
Altogether, 10 arrests have been made in the investigation of the heroin trafficking ring in the last few months
The investigation was patterned after a previous crackdown in another area that tried to concentrate initially on the suppliers of the drug and then pursue the drug users. Police officials declined comment on what community or city the investigation was patterned after, but concede that the spree of arrests in the last few months represent one of the biggest drug investigations handled by the agency in recent years.
“This is an ongoing investigation,” said Halloran.
He stated also that the police are also upping their education efforts in warning kids and other people in the community of the dangers of these drugs. At virtually every forum conducted by local law enforcement leaders in Teller County, the subject of the heroin menace arises. The heroin epidemic has even surfaced as a major issue of concern in the presidential race, especially in the New Hampshire primaries.
In a press release, the police maintained, “we are aggressively pursuing those that deal heroin in our community.”
With the latest arrest, Forbes could face two to four years behind bars if convicted, according to the estimates of police officials. Drugs are classified in Colorado as Schedules 1 to 5, with Schedule I being the highest and having the most potential for abuse. Heroin is a Schedule 1 drug.