Agency Issues Warning Against Illegal Trash Dumps and Owners of Junk Vehicles
The days of little serious crime activity occurring in our rural burgs are over, with big drug cases becoming more routine, and more suspicious characters trying to hide in the mountains inside mini-trash dumps. And the myth that that the fentanyl crisis is just a ‘big city issue’ has ended, with this killer drug moving into the Teller high country.
These messages were relayed loud and clear last week, following a series of major arrests and drug and weapon apprehensions by law enforcement officials.
The Teller County Sheriff’s Office announced a huge drug bust with nearly 10 arrests and the seizure of a large variety of illicit substances, stolen vehicles and illegal weapons.
The rural-area busts started at one address in Florissant and then the investigations’ spider webbed into the raids of two other properties in the same community. The properties targeted involving three different search warrants.
The big bust signaled a problem in the county with an infusion of trash and extra illegal vehicles, an issue that the Teller commissioners are currently working on to curb. Officials are in the process of updating their anti-rubbish rules, with an effort to streamline enforcement efforts more. Under the new proposed ordinance, the Teller Sheriff’s office will take the lead role in cracking down against trash sites, junk cars and old building material.
Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell also said that the recent arrests prove that marijuana and other super dangerous drugs like fentanyl go hand-in-hand since there were large amounts of both drugs found during the raids.
The busts came about over the period of five days (August 16- August 21) and they were the result of a collaboration between the Teller County Narcotics Team, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Response Team, and patrol deputies.
“The first address that we hit was 76 Highland Meadows Drive,” Mikesell said. “One of the reasons we did this was because we had information that alleged sales of narcotics. What we found when we got there was that we are also seeing a connection with some of the dumps in the county, places that have all of the trash, cars, trucks, and junk in the yard. We found several fentanyl pills, 20 pounds of black market marijuana, and other illegal narcotics. There were also stolen trailers that were located. We also did a search warrant at 201 Forest Glen Trail where we recovered more stolen vehicles and also another 10 pounds of marijuana and more fentanyl pills. We then did another search warrant at 562 Elkhorn Road and we recovered two stolen motorcycles from that location, one from Greeley and one from Colorado Springs.”
In total, authorities seized 167 fentanyl pills, three grams of methamphetamines, and 30 pounds of black market marijuana which were intended for distribution with a combined street value in excess of $30,000. Deputies also seized morphine, a large number of various prescription pills, and items intended for packaging, distribution, and use of illegal substances. Additionally, deputies discovered two stolen motorcycles, a stolen truck, a stolen trailer, and illegally modified firearms with ammunition.
The owner of two of the properties, John O’Leary, was arrested for possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, theft of $20,000 – $100,000, possession of a dangerous weapon, possession of a defaced firearm, and two counts of aggravated motor vehicle theft.
Sean Hunter was arrested for possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, and for an existing El Paso County warrant.
The owner of the third property, Michael Wright, was arrested for possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, and for an existing Teller County warrant.
Kyle Winsea was arrested for failing to comply with a domestic violence warrant from El Paso County.
Aaron Burg was arrested for warrants from El Paso County and Alaska.
Sean Ragan-Levesque was arrested for aggravated motor vehicle theft, first degree criminal trespass, and theft of $300 – $700.
Amy Pearson was arrested for a warrant from El Paso County.
Amanda Tipling was arrested for domestic violence, harassment, and third degree assault. And, a ninth person on site was detained for failure to register as a sex offender and subsequently released.
Crackdown Against Trash Sites to Gain Momentum
Mikesell said that at Oleary’s property on Highland Meadows Drive, Hunter was living in a camper on the property with no running water and no electricity. He said that at the other address there were two people living in a tent on the property and one person living in a van.
“One thing we want to get out is that we are working on trash and junk ordinances, and we are no longer going to allow this behavior,” the sheriff said. “These places didn’t have any running water; they didn’t have any sewage. Some were living in the houses, but they were filled with trash. There were a lot of health issues involved.”
However, Mikesell did say that deputies did not find any direct relations to drug cartels like some of the busts they have had in the past. But he did say that the group seemed to be organized at a local level since investigators found evidence that they were collaborating to steal vehicles and distribute illegal narcotics.
“The community wants to know if we are doing anything about fentanyl, and we are. We are going to be hitting it hard,” Mikesell said. “And if you have junk and rubbish in your yard, then we will be dealing with that also.”
At the time this article was written Oleary, Winsea, Burg, and Pearson had either bonded out or been transferred and were no longer at the Teller County Jail. Hunter, Wright, Ragan-Levesque, and Tipling were still incarcerated at the end of last week.