A permanent display recognizing Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputies who have earned law enforcement’s highest award – The Medal of Valor – was dedicated today (Monday, November 14, 2016) along with rooms named in memory of two deputies who died in the line of duty.
The Hall of Valor, Captain Leide DeFusco Training Room and Sergeant/Inspector Warren Watts Emergency Operations Center were dedicated at the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Emergency Services Center.
The Hall of Valor, located in the First Floor Hall of the Emergency Services Center, is dedicated to those deputies who have been awarded the Medal of Valor for displaying exceptional courage, bravery and service by putting their lives on the line for the protection of others.
Plaques with photos and narratives of the 14 deputies, who have been awarded the Medal of Valor since 1977, were unveiled in the Hall of Valor. The deputies are:
Detective Rick Oreskey
Corporal Rick Comstock
Deputy Anthony DeHerrera
Deputy Don Leach
Deputy Fred Cortese
Detective Warren Watts
Deputy Allan Brooks
Deputy Ben Parsons
Captain Leide DeFusco
Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor
Lieutenant John Pannunzio
Detective Talby Velasco
Detective Greg Purkett
Detective Michael Hecht
Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor also unveiled the newly named Captain Leide DeFusco Training Room and the Sergeant/Inspector Warren Watts Emergency Operations Center. Captain DeFusco and Sergeant/Inspector Watts, both who died in the line of duty in 2012.
As part of the unveiling, large photo displays of DeFusco and Watts were dedicated in the respective rooms.
Captain DeFusco died in a plane crash, along with retired Pueblo Police Captain John Barger, in the San Isabel National Forest on August 31, 2012. Captain DeFusco and Barger were searching for an illegal marijuana grow in the area when their plane went down.
Sergeant/Inspector Watts died June 16, 2012, following a routine daily run. It was determined after his death, Sergeant/Inspector Watts suffered three separate cardiac arrests, two of which occurred while he was on duty.
“Captain DeFusco and Sergeant/Inspector Watts both made the ultimate sacrifice. Naming these rooms in memory of these fine deputies is a lasting reminder they will be kept forever in our minds and hearts,” said Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor. “There is not a day that goes by that we don’t recall the sacrifice these men made in protecting the citizens of Pueblo County.”
November 7, 2016
John Paul Wagner Mason Aragon
Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested three men Saturday morning (November 5, 2016) after they were caught in the process of burglarizing a Pueblo West home.
Deputies responded to a home in the 300 block of W. Mangrum Street at about 7:35 a.m. on a report of a burglary in progress. As deputies approached the home, they found two men walking around the side of the home carrying a large mirror. The two suspects, identified as Mason Aragon, 23, and John Paul Wagner, 32, were apprehended and placed in handcuffs.
Deputies learned there were possibly other suspects inside the home. Deputies entered the home and found one male hiding in the basement of the residence. The suspect, identified as Ashton James, 20, also was apprehended. A fourth suspect is still being sought in connection with the incident.
Deputies found a truck parked in the driveway of the home and belonging to one of the suspects. The bed of the truck had various power tools and sports equipment which appeared to have been taken from the home. Deputies learned that none of the men had ties to the home, which had recently been the site of an illegal marijuana grow.
All three suspects were arrested and booked into the Pueblo County jail for first-degree burglary, possession of burglary tools and theft.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing.
October 28, 2016
October 28, 2016: On Thursday, October 27th, the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations and Narcotics Unit, the Pueblo Police Department, and the Pueblo County Marijuana Compliance Inspector held several undercover operations at Pueblo County Marijuana Retail shops. The operations were conducted after receiving multiple complaints that underage individuals were being sold the restricted-sale products.
The sting operation revealed one store sold products to an underage individual. This violation took place at Strawberry Fields on north I-25. After the purchase, three store employees were issued a court summons. A notice of the violation will be forwarded to the State Licensing Board. The majority of the store employees at the other locations asked for ID from the operative upon entry, just as state licensing requires.
Both Pueblo County and the State of Colorado do periodic compliance checks at both liquor and marijuana stores to identify those who fail to comply with the law. PCSO Law Enforcement Bureau Chief David J. Lucero knows this effort is worthwhile, “These business owners don’t want to jeopardize their license,” says Lucero “so while it might be tempting to sell to underage persons, knowing we have these operations in place from time to time, is a great deterrent and that makes our under-age population safer.”
August 11, 2016
Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested two people and seized more than 160 marijuana plants and thousands of dollars in grow equipment after separate search warrants were executed at two Avondale homes on Wednesday (August 10, 2016).
Deputies went to a home at 315 Jane Street, Wednesday morning after a citizen called to report a possible illegal marijuana grow operation at the residence due to recent construction on the home and a privacy fence that was added to the property.
Deputies contacted the home’s renters, Michel Mustelier-Montoya, 33, and Yinet Rodriguez-Hernandez, 32, and asked if they were growing marijuana on the property. Mustelier-Montoya admitted he was growing marijuana but said he had paperwork for a medical marijuana license. When the deputies reviewed the paperwork, it was determined the application had been denied on July 20, 2016.
Mustelier-Montoya allowed deputies into a detached garage on the property, where they discovered approximately 80 marijuana plants in various stages of growth located in three separate rooms of the structure. Deputies obtained a search warrant for the property and located another 24 marijuana plants growing in the living room area of the home, which had been converted into a grow room.
Mustelier-Montoya told deputies he had a second marijuana grow operation at a home at 202 Jane Street. Both homes are owned by the same individual. A separate search warrant was issued at 202 Jane Street, where deputies discovered another 41 marijuana plants growing in the double-car garage area of the home.
Mustelier-Montoya and Rodriguez-Hernandez were both arrested for possession of marijuana and cultivation of marijuana.
The two homes where the marijuana grows were discovered had extensive electrical and water irrigation systems added to accommodate the operations. A Pueblo Regional Building inspector deemed both homes unsafe due to the electrical modification. Electrical power was shut off to both homes.
Michel Mustelier-Montoya Yinet Rodriguez-Hernandez
August 2, 2016
Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputies have arrested 36-year-old Franco Munch after a concerned citizen called the 911 center to report a strong odor of skunk. The caller said the basement windows of a home on the 1600 block of 28th Ln near the odor, had been boarded up and he had concerns that a large ventilation unit was being used to help cultivate marijuana plants inside. When deputies arrived they spoke to Mr. Munch who said he had a medical marijuana grow in the house. Deputies asked if they could check the plant count for compliance. Munch agreed and deputies discovered over 140 plants, in various stages of growth.
The home had two basement rooms and a garage all outfitted for marijuana cultivation, complete with lighting fixtures, gas canisters, and ventilation. Munch said all the plants were his and admitted they exceeded his plant count permissions. Deputies seized over $500,000 in marijuana and several thousand dollars more in equipment.
Franco Munch, a Florida man who had only recently moved into the Pueblo County home, has been charged with:
• Possession with Intent to Manufacture Marijuana (Drug Felony 1)
• Cultivation of Marijuana more than 30 plants (Drug Felony 3)
Colorado State Patrol Hazmat Team along with Pueblo Rural Fire Department responded to the scene to ensure the elevated CO2 levels inside the home didn’t create a health risk for first responders. Pueblo Regional Building also responded to the scene to check structural integrity and safety.
Narcotics Detectives have assumed the case. If anyone has additional information regarding this or any other suspected marijuana grow incident you are encouraged to call the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office @ 719 583 6250 or Pueblo Crime Stoppers at 542 STOP (7867).
July 21, 2016
Pueblo County Sheriff’s Detectives arrested three men and seized 19 firearms, along with 56 marijuana plants after executing a search warrant at a Pueblo West home Thursday (July 21, 2016).
Detectives obtained information that residents of a home at 117 N. Candlewood Drive in Pueblo West were possibly growing and selling marijuana illegally from the home. During an earlier undercover operation, detectives made a purchase of more than one pound of marijuana at the home.
On Thursday, detectives returned to the home with a search warrant and discovered a marijuana grow operation consisting of 56 plants along with an active butane hash oil operation. The search also uncovered 19 firearms, including an assault rifle which was illegally modified to fire automatically.
The homeowner, Gary Clasby, 49, was arrested on charges of possession of a dangerous weapon, hazardous extraction of marijuana and cultivation of more than 30 marijuana plants.
Two other men, who were living in a camper on the property, were also arrested. Matthew Prigge, 31, was arrested for hazardous extraction of marijuana concentrate and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Brandon Cederholm, 24, was arrested for hazardous extraction of marijuana concentrate and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
All three men have been booked into the Pueblo County Detention Center.
(Top Left to Right: Gary Clasby, Matthew Prigge, Brandon Cederholm)
July 7, 2016
More than 1,000 marijuana plants worth a street value of $4.2 million were confiscated Thursday (July 7, 2016) from an illegal grow discovered on private property near the Table Top Mountain area in Rye.
Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor spearheaded the multi-agency operation called, “Operation Flypaper III”, to take down the fourth illegal marijuana grow site discovered in the area in less than four years. Two marijuana grows were discovered and dismantled in August 2012, and a third grow site was found and taken down in October 2015. All four grows are believed to be connected to a Mexican cartel.
“I do try to make it as difficult as possible for cartels or anyone else to illegally grow marijuana in the county of Pueblo. In this case, we had help from our federal stakeholders and we brought resources together to make the point clear,” Taylor said.
Assisting the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Narcotics and Special Weapons and Tactics teams with Thursday’s operation were the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and the Colorado National Guard.
The illegal grow was discovered several months ago in proximity to where the three other sophisticated, major illegal marijuana grow operations were found on San Isabel National Forest land as part of “Operation Flypaper” and “Operation Flypaper II”. More than 9,400 marijuana plants were confiscated in those two operations.
The latest operation was spearheaded by Taylor following months of investigation by Sheriff’s Detectives after being alerted by hikers who reported seeing men hauling irrigation tubing into the area. A fly over of the area was conducted by DEA and confirmed the illegal marijuana grow on private property, near Gleason Canyon.
Sheriff’s Detectives notified the property owner, who was unaware marijuana was being grown on his land. The property owner gave permission for authorities to search the land and confiscate all marijuana plants found.
Early Thursday, law enforcement officers hiked through steep mountain terrain and found 1,067 marijuana plants, along with thousands of dollars of extensive irrigating and growing equipment. Authorities also discovered make-shift shelters, where it is believed the caretakers of the plants had been living. Authorities believe the caretakers harvested some of the plants before abruptly abandoning the grow site about a month ago. No suspects have been located.
June 9, 2016
Capt. Leide DeFusco Sgt. Warren Watts
Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputies Captain Leide DeFusco and Sergeant/Inspector Warren Watts dedicated their lives to helping others in need. Both died while serving in the line of duty. In their memory, DeFusco and Watts’ spirit of serving others will continue to live through a fundraising golf tournament named in honor of the two fallen deputies.
The inaugural Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Leide DeFusco/Warren Watts Charity Golf Tournament is scheduled for July 9 at the Desert Hawk Golf Course in Pueblo West. Registration begins at 8 a.m. followed by a shotgun start at 9 a.m.
Cost of the 4-person scramble tournament is $85 per person or $340 per team. Deadline for entries is June 27. The tournament is limited to 25 teams. Corporate sponsors also are being sought for the tournament. Proceeds from the tournament will go to the Sheriff’s Assistance for Employees (SAFE) program which provides assistance to Pueblo County Sheriff’s employees who need help during a time of crisis.
DeFusco died in August 2012, when the airplane which he was riding crashed in the San Isabel National Forest. DeFusco was investigating illegal marijuana grows in the area at the time of the crash.
Watts died in June 2012, of cardiac arrest following a routine daily run. His death was classified in-the-line of duty as it was determined stressors from the job contributed to his death.
“Captain DeFusco and Sergeant Watts epitomize our motto service over self. They dedicated themselves to giving and serving others,” said Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor. “It’s fitting we honor their memory through this charity golf tournament that benefits the men and women of the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office when they most need it.”
The Sheriff’s Assistance for Employees is a non-profit organization and registered 501C3, created by Sheriff Taylor but operates as a deputy-initiated charitable program with the purpose of helping members of the Sheriff’s Office through difficult times with moral and financial support. All assistance provided to the SAFE program comes from fundraisers and donations. Donations to the SAFE program are tax deductible. Checks and money orders to the program can be made to SAFE c/o Shane Ammeter, 909 Court St., Pueblo, Co., 81003.
For more information about the inaugural Leide DeFusco/Warren Watts Charity Golf Tournament, contact Ammeter at (719) 583-6132 or SAFE President Reyes Martinez at (719) 583-4537.
June 7, 2016
Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputies seized 245 marijuana plants and arrested one person Monday night (June 6, 2016) in connection with an illegal grow discovered on property in the 4600 block of Rock Creek Road, located off of Colorado Highway 78 in southwestern Pueblo County.
Sheriff’s deputies received a complaint from the community about a possible illegal grow on the property at 4611 Rock Creek Road. During an investigation into the complaint, deputies discovered the resident, Bradley William Glavin, 30, was growing marijuana in a foundation of a basement of an unfinished home and in two greenhouses on the property. Deputies also discovered Glavin was living in a fifth-wheel trailer on the property.
Further investigation determined that Glavin did not have paperwork to substantiate a marijuana grow. Detectives executed a search warrant and discovered 251growing marijuana plants and three pounds of dried marijuana on the property.
Detectives seized 245 plants and the three pounds of dried product, which combined has an estimated street value of $247,000. Growing lights were also confiscated from the property. Detectives left 6 marijuana plants, as allowed by state law.
Glavin was arrested on charges of possession of marijuana with intent to manufacture and cultivation of marijuana.
During the investigation on Rock Creek Road, deputies received a complaint of another possible illegal grow at a nearby property on Muldoon Road. A search warrant was executed at that residence but it was determined the grow was within the owner’s legal limit as allowed by state law. No action was taken against that grow owner.
May 20, 2016
Pueblo County Sheriff’s Detectives arrested a man Thursday night (May 19, 2016) after finding he had more marijuana plants and dried marijuana product in his Pueblo West home than what he was legally allowed to possess.
Jeremiah Bryant, 35, was arrested for cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and obstruction after detectives executed a search warrant at the home he was renting at 1340 S. Walden Circle and found he exceeded his legal plant count by 235 plants and dried marijuana amount by more than 9 pounds.
Detectives went to the home after receiving a tip from a delivery driver of a possible illegal marijuana grow due to the strong odor of marijuana coming from the residence. Detectives contacted a man at the residence who admitted there was marijuana in the home but said it belonged to Bryant. The man told detectives Bryant rents the home but lives at a residence in Pueblo. The man said Bryant allows him to live at the home rent free.
Detectives contacted Bryant by telephone and Bryant told them the marijuana was his but he has a medical marijuana license allowing for the grow. Bryant met detectives at the home and showed a valid medical marijuana license permitting him to have up to 99 plants and 33 ounces of dried marijuana, all for medical purposes. He also was allowed to have six additional plants for recreational purposes.
After executing the search warrant, detectives found 340 marijuana plants growing in the home and garage. Detectives also discovered some drying marijuana plants and more than 9 pounds of dried and packaged marijuana at the residence.
Detectives allowed Bryant to keep 105 plants and 33 ounces of dried marijuana per his license, but seized the 235 plants and 9 pounds of packaged marijuana worth a combined estimated $750,000. Investigators also confiscated more than $20,000 in growing and processing equipment and more than $6,000 in cash.
Due to extensive alterations made to the home’s electrical system and water damage associated with the grow operation, Pueblo Regional Building deemed the home unsafe to occupy.