February 12, 2015: Late Tuesday night Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Deputies followed-up on a tip of a possible excessive marijuana grow at 38000 block of Bush Rd in Avondale, CO. The property owner, 45-year-old Mario Gonsalves told deputies he was growing medical marijuana for himself but admitted the number of plants he had on the property were more than the amount he was permitted by law.
After obtaining a search warrant, over 600 marijuana plants were found, that number far exceeded the permissible plant number of 75 that had been allotted to Gonsalves by doctors. Deputies also discovered 75-100 pounds of dried marijuana material. Several pounds of the marijuana appeared to be packaged for distribution either in one pound bulk, or in smaller quantities in glass jars with the strain name printed on a label. The estimated value of the dried marijuana is roughly $25,000 with another $150,000 in plants found on the property.
Gonsalves said he was growing marijuana for a friend out of state but upon investigation, deputies discovered the other person’s medical card still did not account for the high quantities found, much of it hidden, on the property. Gonsalves told deputies he moved from Connecticut to the Pueblo area in 2014 to start a marijuana grow business. Gonsalves could not provide the necessary documentation to prove he was a licensed marijuana caregiver, which put the amount of marijuana plants found in his home far beyond Colorado’s felony charges threshold.
In addition, three firearms were discovered in the residence. Gonsalves was arrested for Possession w/ the Intent to Manufacture (50lbs or more) and Marijuana Cultivation (more than 30 plants), both are felony charges. A $5,000 bond has been set.
February 6, 2015
February 5, 2015: Just after 10pm on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to simultaneous reports of shots fired in the area of 27th Lane and Huerfano Road. The first call came from a home owner on Huerfano Road who said a red car pulled up to the locked gate at the end of her driveway and fired several times toward the house. Shortly after, the 28-year-old driver of a red Charger called 911 and reported his car was shot at while he was pulled along 27th lane attempting to get directions to a friend’s house.
As deputies made contact with the home owner, they spoke to 26- year-old Taggard Rieke who admitted to firing the shots but insisted he fired only at dirt and not at the vehicle. Rieke admitted to smoking marijuana and drinking before repeatedly firing the AR-15 he had in his possession. He explained the family had been having problems with a different individual over marijuana and, when he travelled the quarter mile down the driveway to fire the shots, he believed it was those people.
While interviewing the two occupants of the car, deputies saw 2 bullet holes and a broken window on the red Dodge Charger. The driver said he and a friend were looking for a party they were invited to on 27th lane but had gotten lost on the county road. While looking for a spot to access the internet from their cellular phones, they pulled to the shoulder. He said they were there only a short time when a vehicle came up from behind them and fired several shots, some of those shots hit the car they were sitting in.
Deputies searched the car and interviewed the driver and passenger but were unable to find any evidence confirming Rieke’s accounting that a gun had been fired from inside the vehicle.
Rieke was arrested and is charged with:
• 2 counts attempted 2nd degree murder
• 2 counts menacing with a deadly weapon
• Illegal discharge of a firearm
• Prohibited use of a weapon
February 2, 2015
February 2, 2015: Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) deputies have arrested 20-year old Jacob Janke for Attempted 1st Degree Murder, Assault, and Attempted Vehicular Assault. The arrest occurred Saturday morning after Janke reportedly tried to kill his 18-year-old roommate, Austin Tanner. According to the victim, the attempt came by surprise after the two had spent the evening in Colorado Springs.
Tanner told deputies that just before 7:00 am, Janke pulled over near the railroad tracks along I-25 near mile post 108 to smoke marijuana. The two were standing outside the car when, without provocation, Janke stabbed him in the neck. Then as Tanner was fleeing on foot, Janke tried running him over with the car. Tanner managed to run to the Interstate where he flagged down a passing motorist who dialed 911.
Colorado State Patrol and Burlington Northern Railroad personnel were close by and stayed with the victim until Pueblo West Fire Department could provide critical medical care. Tanner was transported to a local hospital while PCSO deputies searched the area where the incident occurred and went to the home in the city the two shared. Janke was found there and arrested without incident.
He is being held at Pueblo County Detention Facility on a $500,000 bond.
January 30, 2015
Pueblo, CO: Thursday, January 29, 2015 just after 6 am, the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) served a search warrant on a house at the 1600 Block of East 2nd St. The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit, Sheriff’s Detectives and a K-9 deputy arrived at the home to find nearly $20,000 in narcotics. The illegal substances included over 170 grams of Heroin, 34 grams of Methamphetamine, 2 grams of Cocaine, and a small amount of Crack Cocaine. Also discovered were guns, knives, cash, Marijuana (within recreational limits) and various drug paraphernalia.
The early morning raid was initiated after Sheriff’s detectives received citizen tips about the activities going on at the home. Those same detectives spent time surveilling the property, confirmed the likelihood of drug trafficking at the residence, and were able to obtain a search warrant. After breaching the scene, deputies found one of the eight people inside attempting to dispose of the drugs by flushing them down the toilet. 34-year-old Dallas Gaulding was unsuccessful in his attempt and the drugs were recovered. Of the other occupants two were arrested for charges associated with the bust, two on unrelated warrants, and three were questioned and released.
34-year-old Dallas Gaulding: Possession of Schedule I Controlled Substance w/ Intent to Distribute, Possession of Schedule I Controlled Substance, Possession of Schedule II Controlled Substance w/ Intent to Distribute (x2), Possession of Schedule II Controlled Substance (x2), Special Offender, Possession of an Illegal Weapon, Protection Order Violation (x12)
31-year-old Daniel Lowell: Possession of Schedule I Controlled Substance w/ Intent to Distribute, Possession of Schedule I Controlled Substance, Possession of Schedule II Controlled Substance w/Intent to Distribute, Special Offender
20-year-old Tasha Kerr: Possession of Schedule I Controlled Substance w/ Intent to Distribute, Possession of Schedule I Controlled Substance, Possession of Schedule II Controlled Substance w/Intent to Distribute
41-year-old William Gonzales and 23-year-old Louie Leal both on unrelated warrants
The PCSO Narcotics Unit continue their efforts, often times relying on tips from the public to strengthen their investigation. Anyone with information regarding illegal drug activity is encouraged to call Pueblo Crimestoppers at 542-STOP (7867) or their local law enforcement agency.
August 4, 2014
August 4, 2014: Just before 7:00 AM this morning, the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call at the Cannasseur Marijuana Dispensary on N. Precision Dr. in Pueblo West. The caller reported a man had just forced an employee into the business at gunpoint and other employees were believed to be inside the building. Deputies immediately responded and the PCSO Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team was called out. While the suspect was inside the building he bound the hands of employees, ripped the phones from the wall, and took a large amount of marijuana/THC products. Deputies quickly and quietly surrounded the building. When the man ran from the store, he was forced onto the ground at gunpoint and taken into custody without incident by patrol deputies.
Arrested was 40-year-old Texas resident, David Lopez. Lopez was armed with a fully loaded (30 round magazine) 9mm Glock pistol. The stolen items were still in his possession. Deputies discovered a vehicle parked at a nearby business with the license plates concealed. It is believed the vehicle was parked there by Lopez as a getaway car. Deputies have learned Lopez has been spotted at least two other marijuana dispensaries in Pueblo West. Precision Dr. was closed during the incident but has since re-opened.
Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor credits both the awareness of the 911 caller and the quick response of the deputies with the peaceful resolution. “This could have very easily escalated into a deadly situation,” says Taylor, “this suspect was heavily armed and had carefully planned his crime but because of the witnesses quick call into 911 and the rapid response by communications and patrol, the entire event was over in just over 30 minutes.”
Lopez is being booked into Pueblo County Jail on multiple felony charges, including False Imprisonment, Kidnapping, Aggravated Robbery, and Menacing.
January 30, 2014
January 30, 2014: PCSO Undercover Narcotics Officers arrested 56-year-old Thomas Randal Salsman on Wednesday, January 29th after Salsman attempted to sell marijuana to at least one of the Pueblo County Marijuana Shops. Salsman is a resident of Colorado Springs who admitted to having a grow operation for over two decades.
Marijuana shops and dispensaries are both strictly prohibited from purchasing marijuana from anyone who isn’t licensed by the state. State licensing is designed to keep contaminated products from entering the shops so “back-door” sales are illegal. Salsman is not a licensed grower and his intent to distribute to the shops is a felony.
To apprehend Salsman, detectives used an undercover sting operation and the help of a local dispensary. During the arrest PCSO seized 18 ounces of marijuana and a .45 caliber handgun, both were recovered inside his vehicle. Today deputies served a search warrant on his Colorado Springs home and confiscated another 20 ounces of marijuana. The combined value of the drugs is in excess of $15,000.
Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor is disconcerted because the suspect came from another community specifically to commit his crime in our county. “For now this is a scenario that is unique to Pueblo County but as more communities permit marijuana shops it will happen more frequently. The job of the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office and the recently appointed regulatory officer will be to ensure that the next person to try and commit this crime isn’t successful either.” says Taylor.
Salsman is being held in Pueblo County Detention Facility charged with:
Possession with Intent to Distribute Class 3 Felony
Possession of more than 12 oz Class 4 Felony
January 17, 2014
January 17, 2014: On Thursday, January 2nd, Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit and SWAT Team served a search warrant at two homes on a property at the 6200 Block of Highway 78 West. That warrant continues to yield big results. Recovered in the search on that day was over three ounces of methamphetamine, a stolen truck, a stolen 4-wheeler, a stolen weapon, and the tools needed to package large amounts of methamphetamines. Detectives arrested 60-year-old Steve Tuttle, and drafted warrants for (and later arrested) 23-year-old Billy Soto, and 51-year-old Jeffery Hannah. The search took 24 hours to complete because it required a thorough examination of the pipes and septic tank of the home after the suspects attempted to flush the narcotics into their sewer.
Information obtained during that search led the same Narcotics and SWAT members to serve a new warrant on an adjacent property yesterday, January 16th. Recovered were two stolen Ford pick-up trucks and three stolen 4-wheelers. The recovered vehicles are from Pueblo, El Paso, and Bent counties. Also recovered were miscellaneous drug paraphernalia, an excessively large quantity of marijuana (well outside the legally permissible limits), methamphetamines, and stolen property that included four wire feed-welders, an arc welder, an acetylene torch set, a commercial tapper/compactor, and several power tools. Yesterday deputies arrested three additional people; 60-year-old James Medina and his 29-year-old son Jessie Medina along with 49-year-old Jerri Halley.
The result from these searches doesn’t end there. After being advised of one of the Ford pick-ups recovered at the scene, the Pueblo Police Department responded to the area and obtained a search warrant of their own. Evidence found has tied this property to recent burglaries in the Pueblo community.
Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor was present during the search. “We recovered over $70,000 in stolen property here, just one of these trucks is valued at $40,000. These narcotics and SWAT personnel are quiet dedicated professionals who work hard, ask for little, and get the job done. They certainly demonstrated that during the investigations into these properties and these individuals.” says Taylor.
Deputies are still looking for 37-year-old Leslie Miller-Acosta. She has a $75,000 warrant for possession and intent to distribute charges as well as a special offender charge. The investigation is on-going, Pueblo Police Department and Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office were at the scene late into the day searching for and clearing items that may have been reported stolen. Additional arrests and/or charges are likely to follow.
May 15, 2013
May 15, 2013. Captain DeFusco was killed in the line of duty in August 2012 after he and retired Police Captain John Barger were surveying the second largest marijuana “grow” in state history. The grow was in the beginning stages of being harvested by a Drug Cartel believed to be from Mexico.
The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office participated this week in the events known as “National Police Week”. In 1962 President John F. Kennedy declared that May 15th would be known as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. The National Law Enforcement Memorial is located in Washington DC. There are 19, 981 officers with their names placed on the memorial. In 2012, 120 officers nationwide lost their lives in the line of duty and they were placed on the wall. Additionally 201 historical finds of officers killed in the line of duty were posthumously placed on the wall based on historical reviews of how they died. Last year the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office sent a contingent of deputies and honor guard to place the name of W.W. Green on the wall who was killed in 1919 in the jail by an inmate who had a gun smuggled in. The gun was smuggled in by way of picnic basket suspected to have been brought by the inmate’s girl friend.
In memory of Leide W. DeFusco, the sheriff’s office sent a contingent of co-workers some of whom worked non-stop to find then recover the missing plane, the whole time hoping for a different outcome. It is important to note the forfeited money seized federally from convicted drug dealers which is shared with law enforcement was used to pay for the trip.
The non-profit group SAFE (Sheriff’s Assistance for Employees) raised over $7000.00 to send Captain DeFusco’s family to Washington DC as well.
The week is dedicated to the family of the fallen officer and to co-workers and fellow officers. It is estimated 20,000 people were present today for the official ceremony and President Barack Obama delivered the keynote address to families, colleagues, friends and supporters of such organizations. The National Law Enforcement Memorial can be observed online at nleom.org and (COPS) Concerns for Police Survivors National Organization plays a large role in providing contemporary structured training and debriefing sessions during the week.
The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard competed for the second year and we expect the results to be favorable to their hard work over the weeks.
There was a somber candlelight vigil Monday May 13, 2013 attended by United States Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the National President of COPS Madeline Neumann.
Attorney General Holder made note of the fact that fallen officers such as Leide will have “their legacies and contributions always endure” Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor echoed the Attorney General by stating “today we placed my friend, my colleague and my captain forever on a wall so that all who pass by will know, he is remembered.”
In Washington DC there are plans to open soon a museum close to the Memorial which will contain mementos, plaques and memories of those killed in the line of duty. The Pueblo County Sheriff’s dedicated a replica plane and plaque for the museum complete with signatures from co-workers, family and friends of both men killed August 31, 2012.
It is important that family and fellow officers, co-workers and friends be allowed to find closure if ever that were possible completely, the Memorial Week in Washington DC goes a long way to attempt healing with classes, special events and genuine care. The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office was glad to participate, but heavy hearted for the circumstances that required it.
August 31, 2012
Pueblo, CO, 2135: Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, Officers from the Pueblo Police Department and US Forest Service, along with Fremont County and Custer County search and rescue teams found the missing plane that went down late this morning. Neither of the two people on board survived.
In a statement given to the media present at the Rye High School at 1 Thunderbolt Drive, Rye, CO, Sheriff Taylor said, “Both men were close personal friends of mine and both were Law Enforcement professionals. One was a retired Pueblo Police Department Officer and the other a current member of the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office.” The families of both men have been notified. The names will be released by the Coroner.
The men were in the area searching for a potential marijuana grow that they spotted two weeks ago.
Flight for Life spotted the smoke and used that as a beacon to find the crash site.
The site of the crash was found in a terrain that was very difficult to access just north of Cisneros Trail in the San Isabel National Forest in Custer County.
The National Transportation & Safety Board (NTSB) has been notified and are in the process of starting their investigation.
August 16, 2012
In early January 2012, a local citizen was snow shoeing in the San Isabel Forest area off of Highway 165 in Rye, Colorado when he discovered what he believed to be a “Meth Lab”. Deputies from the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office responded and investigated the area. They came across what was believed to be a former illegal marijuana cultivation site.
Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Detectives began a surveillance of the area towards the end of May as the snow dissipated. They discovered two sophisticated operations that included water pumps, irrigation lines and fertilizer. The locations were strategically selected based on sunlight, water and the ability to conceal the sites.
After insertion into the grow site in June, Detectives discovered marijuana plants had been planted and were approximately 12-18 inches in height. Also observed were people under a man made lean-to shelter near the marijuana plants.
In early August, two more grow sites were observed by the U.S. Forest Service during a routine “fly over” of the area checking for beetle kill and tree damage. Investigation into these grows revealed a male party wearing camouflage in and around the grows. Corroborating evidence was gathered in order to obtain a search warrant for the area.
On August 15, 2012 Sheriff Kirk Taylor led a multi-agency operation known as “Operation Flypaper” to extricate the marijuana grows. The teams involved were the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, Narcotics Division, Special Weapons And Tactics team (S.W.A.T.), the Special Tactics And Techniques team (S.T.A.T.) and Emergency Services Bureau, the Pueblo Police Department’s S.W.A.T. team and Narcotics Unit, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Guard Counter Drug Task Force.
The teams successfully located and secured two (2) marijuana grow sites that were larger than originally anticipated. Sheriff Taylor believes these two sites may just scratch the surface and the total of marijuana plants may be in excess of seven thousand (7000). The street value of all suspected marijuana seized is approximately 15 million dollars.
Sheriff Taylor says there’s an indication this could be a Mexican drug cartel operation. “if you don’t think they’re here, they are and if we pass Amendment 64, there’s going to be a lot more of them,” said Sheriff Taylor.
Amendment 64 will appear on the November ballot. Voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana or not.
Two men were arrested without incident and were transported to the Pueblo County Jail. Four (4) other men were seen fleeing the area on foot and have not yet been identified or apprehended due to the vast terrain. There are no indications that the four (4) men who fled are in the area or are a threat to citizens.
Leon-Tobar, Luis (32 years old) and Resendiz-Soto, Abel (29 years old) are being held in the Pueblo County Jail with a $100,000 bond on the following charges:
Unlawful Distribution of 100 pounds or more of Marijuana 18-18-406(6)(B)(III)(C) – F3
Illegal cultivation of marijuana 30 or more plants 18-18-405 – F4
Illegal possession of marijuana more than twelve ounces 18-18-406(4)(c) – F6
Second Degree Criminal trespass 18-4-503 (2)(b) – F4
If you have any information about this case, please contact the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office (719)583-6250 or CrimeStoppers at (719)542-STOP.