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November 10, 2018
Man’s Body Recovered from Bessemer Ditch; Investigation Ongoing

Pueblo County Sheriff’s Detectives are investigating after a body of a man was found earlier today in the Bessemer Ditch in Eastern Pueblo County.

Deputies responded to the ditch near 33rd Lane at about 10:15 a.m. after receiving a report from a witness who said he saw what he believed to be a body in the ditch. Sheriff’s Office Emergency Services Bureau’s dive team with assistance from Pueblo Rural Fire responded and recovered the body. Sheriff’s Investigators are working with the Pueblo County Coroner’s Office to determine the identity of the individual.

It is unknown how long the body had been in the water. There were no obvious signs of trauma, however detectives are considering the death suspicious. The investigation is ongoing.

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November 9, 2018
Deputies Arrest One After Shots Fired in Church Parking Lot During Funeral

Leonard Rodriguez

Pueblo County Sheriff’s Detectives arrested a 26-year-old Pueblo man this afternoon in connection with an incident where gunshots were fired in the parking lot of a Blende church while a funeral service was being held. No one was injured in the incident.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to St. Joseph Church, 1145 S. Aspen Road at about 10:20 a.m. after receiving numerous reports of shots fired in a parking lot located north of the church. Witnesses reported seeing a black Chrysler sedan drive into the parking lot followed by an older model white Ford Escape. The occupants of both vehicles got into a verbal argument when shots were fired from someone inside the Escape. Both vehicles left the parking lot in opposite directions on Aspen Road.

St. Joseph staff immediately placed the church and office buildings on lockdown. The funeral service continued uninterrupted.

Based on consistent witness descriptions of the vehicles involved in the incident, less than two hours after the call sheriff’s detectives located the black Chrysler at a home on the city’s East Side. The occupants of the vehicle were at the home and were questioned about the incident.

During the investigation, detectives learned the identity of the suspect who fired the gunshots from the Ford Escape was Leonard “Lenny” Rodriguez. Detectives followed several tips and eventually located Rodriguez at about 3:10 p.m. in the parking lot at 1006 Bonforte Boulevard.
He was taken into custody without incident.

Rodriguez was arrested for two counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of felony menacing, two counts of reckless endangerment, possession of a weapon by a previous offender and possession of a Schedule 1 controlled substance. He was booked into Pueblo County Jail.

The motive for the shooting is still under investigation.

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November 3, 2018
Arrest Made in Halloween Night Hit-and-Run Accident

 

Kaitlin N. Golden

The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office made an arrest today in the hit-and-run accident that occurred in Pueblo West on Halloween night that left a 15-year-old girl with serious injuries.

Detectives arrested Kaitlin Golden, 29, of Pueblo West on a Class 4 felony warrant for failing to remain at the scene of a traffic accident involving serious bodily injury.

Deputies received a tip late Friday that led them to a home in the 100 block of E. Cellini Drive, not far from the site of the October 31 accident. Deputies located a 2012 gray Chevrolet Impala at that residence that appeared to have recent damage to the front portion of the vehicle. Deputies contacted the resident, identified as Golden, and asked her if she had been involved in a traffic accident. Golden told deputies she recently hit a deer in Castle Rock. Deputies noted there was no visible evidence to support her claim of hitting an animal.

Based on evidence observed on the vehicle, deputies seized the vehicle and sought a search warrant. The warrant was executed this morning and detectives discovered physical evidence to suspect the vehicle was involved in this case. An arrest warrant was then issued for Golden. She was arrested without incident and has been booked into the Pueblo County Jail.

The 15-year-old victim was trick-or-treating with friends when she was hit by a vehicle while walking eastbound at about 7:20 p.m. along E. Cellini Drive. The vehicle left the scene. The victim suffered serious injuries and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. She was later airlifted to a Colorado Springs hospital for further treatment of her injuries.

Detectives asked for the public’s help in finding the suspect vehicle as there were conflicting witness reports on the description. Numerous tips were provided to the Sheriff’s Office.

Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor thanked the public for its assistance in providing the valuable information that led to the arrest of the suspect in this case. “This was a senseless tragedy. We are thankful for all the public’s assistance in helping us identify the suspect. We offer our prayers for a speedy recovery for this young lady.”

Taylor also thanked his detectives and deputies for their dedicated and diligent work to identify the responsible suspect. “This could have been any one of our children enjoying Halloween when this unnecessary action occurred. Our deputies worked very hard, with our community, to identify the person responsible.”

Detectives have been in contact with the victim’s family and are working with the local victims’ assistance (ACOVA) to provide additional resources for the family as this case progresses. Alcohol may have been a contributing factor in the incident. The investigation is ongoing.

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November 1, 2018
Sheriff’s Office invites Comment and Opinion in 2018 Citizen Survey!

Click http://bit.ly/2018PCSO to take our Survey

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Stolen Vehicles, Tools, Trailers Recovered from East Side Property

Darin Mondragon

Darin Mondragon

Thousands of dollars in stolen vehicles, trailers and tools reportedly taken in recent burglaries in El Paso and Pueblo counties were recovered Tuesday afternoon from property located on Pueblo’s East Side.

Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a suspicious activity call in the 1600 block of E. Beech Street and discovered several stolen vehicles and tools on property that appeared to be a salvage yard.

Deputies entered the property through an open gate and contacted several individuals, all of whom said they did not own the property nor did they know the owner. Deputies recognized a truck on the property that was similar to one that had been used in a recent burglary in Pueblo West. In checking the ownership of the truck and that of another vehicle on the property, deputies learned they both had been reported stolen. Deputies exited the property and sought a warrant to search the premises.

Sheriff’s detectives, with assistance from Pueblo Police and Colorado State Patrol investigators, executed a search warrant on the property, structures and vehicles at the site and found several stolen vehicles and other items.

Sheriff’s detectives recovered the following property reported stolen in Pueblo County: a Honda motorcycle stolen out of Fountain; a sport bike that had been disassembled; a boat trailer and boat motor and a tree dolly. Detectives also found suspected methamphetamine on the property.

Detectives recovered the following items reported stolen from the city: a Chevrolet truck, eight tool boxes, assorted hand tools, stolen license plates, a 2019 Polaris 4-wheeler, ATV trailer, electric welder and a disassembled Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested a tenant on the property, Darin A. Mondragon, 46, on an unrelated warrant. Mondragon was booked into Pueblo County Jail. Additional charges related to the stolen property are expected to be filed against Mondragon.

The investigation is ongoing.

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October 31, 2018
Two Killed in Traffic Accident in Pueblo West Involving Stolen Vehicle

The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate a two-vehicle accident Tuesday night in Pueblo West that claimed the lives of two people.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the intersection of S. McCulloch Boulevard and John Powell Boulevard at about 9:15 p.m. on the report of an accident involving a 1992 Honda car and a 2013 Dodge Ram truck. Deputies found the male driver of the Honda and a female passenger unresponsive in the vehicle. The female died at the scene. The male was transported to a local hospital where he later died from his injuries. The driver of the truck suffered minor injuries.

Pueblo County Coroner Brian Cotter identified the deceased as Frankie Hernandez, 38, and Catherine Tafoya, 40, both of Pueblo. Hernandez was featured on the Safe Streets Wanted Criminal Roundup on October 26. He was wanted on two no-bond warrants for vehicle theft.

A preliminary investigation indicated Hernandez was traveling west on John Powell Boulevard at a high rate of speed when he failed to stop at a stop sign and was hit by the Dodge truck, which was traveling south on McCulloch Boulevard.

Deputies learned through the investigation that the Honda had been reported stolen out of Colorado Springs. Deputies located a handgun in Hernandez’s possession.

The investigation is ongoing, however drugs, alcohol and speed are being considered factors in the accident.

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October 24, 2018
Sheriff’s Office Uncovers Illegal Marijuana Grows Involving Cuban Syndicate

Yordan Medina-Del-Sol Rayda Reyes Martinez Yuriesky Vazquez-Morales Oniel Torna Olga Alfonso-Hernandez

An illegal marijuana grow operation worth an estimated $1.2 million and involving a Cuban syndicate with ties to Florida was busted today by Pueblo County Sheriff’s Investigations/Narcotics officers with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Sheriff’s detectives seized 340 plants, an estimated 70 pounds of dried product, thousands of dollars in cash, thousands of dollars in grow equipment and made five arrests after executing search warrants at six Pueblo West homes, the largest such operation conducted by the sheriff’s office to date.

Sheriff’s detectives received a tip of a possible illegal marijuana grow syndicate operating out of six homes in Pueblo County. While investigating the tip, detectives obtained information to ascertain there was probable cause to believe marijuana was being grown illegally at the residences, all in Pueblo West. Detectives, working with the DEA, executed search warrants at the homes today and discovered a large number of marijuana plants in various stages of growth in five of those residences. The sixth home where a search warrant was executed did not have an illegal grow.

The homes where busts were made are on N. Starkweather Lane, W. Cellini Drive, S. Fairknoll Lane, Sweetwater Drive and E. Canary Drive. The Pueblo County Regional Building Department condemned the homes due to extensive electrical alterations made to each residence, including the installation of several large air conditioning units at each location. There are also public safety concerns due to unknown chemicals being dumped into the public/septic sewer systems as well as carbon dioxide gas being pumped into the homes to enhance the growing of the plants.

Deputies arrested the following individuals: Olga Alfonso-Hernandez, 49; Yuriesky Vazquez-Morales, 34; Yordan Medina Del-Sol, 31; Oniel Torna, 50 and Rayda Reyes Martinez, 51. Each was arrested for possession with intent to dispense marijuana (CR 18-18-406), cultivation of marijuana (more than 30 plants, CR 18-18-406 3) and possession of 12 ounces or more of marijuana (CR 18-18-406 (4)). Torna also was arrested for child abuse. They all have been booked into Pueblo County Jail.

“I want to commend our narcotics detectives for their investigative efforts in uncovering and putting a stop to this large, sophisticated illegal operation intended solely for black market sale,” said Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor.

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October 23, 2018
Deputies Collecting Unwanted Prescription Drugs at Three Sites on Saturday

Do you have outdated or unwanted prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet? Have you been wanting to dispose of them but you are not sure how to do it safely? Then the annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day scheduled for Saturday, October 27, 2018, is an event you won’t want to miss.

Pueblo County residents will have the opportunity to drop off any unwanted, unused or expired prescription medications at four locations in the county from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The drugs are accepted anonymously and will be disposed of in a safe manner. There is no charge for the service.

The National Prescription Drug Take Back was started by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a way to get unused or outdated drugs out of homes so that they cannot be misused or abused. Studies show that many abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. Additionally, many individuals do not know how to properly dispose of their unused medicine, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away, both potential safety and health hazards.
The DEA started the Drug Take Back program to provide a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of medications.
Pueblo County Sheriff’s deputies will be at the following locations on October 27, to collect unwanted medications:
Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office West Sub-Station, 320 Joe Martinez Blvd.
Pueblo Rural Fire Station, 29912 U.S. Highway 50 E (between Wago Drive and 30th Lane)
Rye Fire Station, 4495 Bent Brothers Blvd.
Deputies also will accept prescription drugs at the South Side King Soopers, 3050 W. Northern Avenue.
Items that cannot be accepted at the Drug Take Back are needles and sharps, mercury thermometers, oxygen containers, chemotherapy/radioactive substances, pressurized canisters and illicit drugs.
For more information about the program, go to www.dea.gov.

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October 17, 2018
Deputies Responding to House Fire Discover Butane Hash Oil Operation

Corey Jones Amy Runnels

 

Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputies responding to a fire Tuesday afternoon at a St. Charles Mesa home discovered equipment and remnants of a butane hash oil production operation that led to the arrest of two people.

Deputies responded to a structure fire in the 100 block of 32 ¾ Lane where they found the back of mobile home on fire. Deputies were told there were people inside the home. As deputies entered the home to inform the residents to leave, they saw butane gas canisters and what appeared to be marijuana concentrate in the residence. Deputies and the residents exited the home. No one was injured.

While the Pueblo Rural Fire extinguished the blaze, deputies observed several other butane gas canisters in the yard of the property, including one that was cut in half and filled with marijuana. Deputies also discovered a large cylinder attached to a hose that led to a shed on the property.

Sheriff’s Narcotics Detectives were called out to investigate and discovered what appeared to be a hash oil production operation. Deputies questioned a resident of the home who said the canister of marijuana belonged to a house guest, identified as Corey L. Jones, 49. Jones and his girlfriend, identified as Amy Runnels, 41, said they had at one time attempted to do marijuana extraction using butane but couldn’t get the process to work.

Deputies arrested Jones and Runnels for extraction of marijuana using a hazardous concentrate (CR 18-18-406-6). Both were booked into Pueblo County Jail.

Investigators determined the fire started in a barrel and quickly spread to the grass and the nearby mobile home. Estimated damage is unknown.

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October 11, 2018
Observant Sheriff’s Detective Spots Vehicles of Interest; Leads to Arrest of Serial Bank Robber

Chad Hovet

A Pueblo County Sheriff’s Detective’s keen observation led to the arrest Wednesday of a Pueblo West man in connection with a string of bank robberies in Pueblo West that occurred during a two-month period last spring.

The detective, who was working on an unrelated investigation, was driving in the 100 block of S. Trevino Drive in Pueblo West Wednesday morning when he saw a vehicle at home that resembled the one used in the robberies of the Bank of San Juans, TBK Bank and ENT Bank in Pueblo West. A second vehicle on the property was similar to the one believed to be used in at least two other area bank robberies, one in Colorado Springs and one in Pueblo.

The suspect in the Pueblo West bank robberies, which occurred from March 29 through May 24, was seen leaving each of the banks in a green GMC Envoy. On Wednesday, the detective noticed a green Envoy on the S. Trevino Drive property that looked a lot like the one used in the robberies. A second vehicle, a white GMC truck, also at the Trevino address shares the likeness to the vehicle that witnesses observed leaving the Colorado Springs and Pueblo bank robberies. Sheriff’s detectives determined that the same owner of both vehicles lived at the address and subsequently questioned him and his wife.

Detectives executed a search warrant on the home and seized the vehicles located on the Trevino property. Based on the evidence found in the search and interviews, detectives arrested Chad Ray Hovet, 35, in connection with the three Pueblo West bank robberies. Hovet is also considered a person of interest in two other bank robberies, the UMB Bank in Colorado Springs on April 11 and the Wells Fargo Bank, 2800 S. Prairie Avenue in Pueblo on May 24.

Notifications were made to Pueblo Police Chief Troy Davenport, Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey and the Federal Bureau of Investigations regarding the investigation. We are currently combining our resources in this investigative effort. Hovet was arrested on three counts of aggravated robbery, 13 counts of menacing and two counts of theft. He was booked into Pueblo County Jail. The investigation is continuing and other charges are likely.

Hovet’s arrest comes a little more than six months after the March 29 robbery of The Bank of San Juans in Pueblo West. Six days later, a man matching the same description robbed the TBK Bank, 94 Tiffany Drive. Then on May 24, ENT Bank, 44 E. Industrial Boulevard was robbed.

In each of the robberies, the suspect was described as a white male with slender build. He was reported wearing a dark green coat and had either a mask or bandana over his face and wore sunglasses. The weapon used in each of the robberies was reportedly the same type of handgun and the suspect ordered the tellers at all the banks to put the money in the same type of bag.

“I commend my deputies for their hard work and dedication in continuing to pursue this very dangerous individual,” said Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor. “Citizens can rest a little easier knowing this person who was terrorizing our community has been taken off the streets.”

 

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