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.
July 30, 2011
July 30, 2011:Deputies responding to a report of “threats” have followed the information and found a series of thefts in Pueblo County have been committed by the same group of teens. Since the end of June 2011, Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Deputies and Investigators have been following leads and conducting interviews and have found as many as 15 males, some adult, some juvenile are involved in a theft ring. The discovery has resulted in the recovery of thousands of dollars in property, the resolution of 7 theft from auto cases, and 1 residential burglary case.
At this time, three arrests have been made and more are likely to follow after the investigation is complete. The parties arrested are:
Dannie Souza (18) – 800 Blk of S. Larue Dr
· 2nd Degree Burglary (Felony)
· 1st Degree Criminal Trespass (Felony)
· 67 Counts of Providing False Information to a Pawnbroker (Felony)
· Misdemeanor Theft
· Misdemeanor Theft by Receiving
Benjamin Montoya (19) – 1500 Blk N Bowen Dr
· Providing False Information to a Pawnbroker (Felony)
· Misdemeanor Theft by Receiving
Identity Sealed (17)-Juvenile Male
· 2nd Degree Burglary (Felony)
· Felony Theft
Investigators believe more burglaries and thefts from autos were likely committed but home owners have not yet reported the incident. Sheriff Kirk M Taylor is asking citizen’s that have been a victim of this type of crime between January 2011- June 2011 to contact the Sheriff’s Office. “This investigation is on-going, dozens of pieces of stolen property have been recovered but not claimed. If this property is claimed by someone who reports an additional incident, these men, and likely others we are investigation will face additional charges, and that is the way it should be. They made citizens in our community victims. Each individual that committed these thefts needs to be held accountable for crimes they committed.”
This investigation has uncovered leads on potential suspects on a burglary at a medical marijuana dispensary in Eastern Pueblo County. That investigation is also on-going.
May 12, 2011
On May 11, 2011 at approx 1:30 P.M., the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center received a call of a suspicious male who was walking on Hwy 78W in Pueblo County. The caller stated the male party was trying to get a ride and noticed a Qwest van disabled on the side of the road.
Deputies and Communication Officers linked the information given to a possible Quest van reported stolen from the area of 13th and Baxter earlier by the Pueblo Police Department.
Upon arrival, deputies contacted Blaine Dowel (24 yo) who matched the description also given by the Pueblo Police Department. While being placed into custody, deputies found two (2) concealed handguns and less than one (1) ounce of marijuana.
Dowell was also identified as being a convicted felon in the state of Kansas.
“Communication between our agencies and the public was the vital key in apprehending this man and maintaining officer safety. By alerting each other with invaluable information, we were able to make our communities safer.” Sheriff Kirk Taylor
Dowell is currently being held in the Pueblo County Jail with no bond on the following charges:
18-12-108(2) (a) Possession of a Weapon by a Previous Offender 6F
18-4-409 Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft 5F
18-12-105 Unlawful carrying of a Concealed Weapon 2M
18-18-406(1) Possession of Marijuana Under 1 oz. 2PO
August 25, 2010
The 8th annual training conference for the Colorado Drug Investigators Association (CDIA) was held this August 18 -20 in Breckenridge, CO. During the conference, the prestigious Regional Vice President’s Award was given to The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit. This was the first time the Sheriff’s Office has received this award.
The CDIA is a non profit organization with a purpose to educate the citizens of Colorado with important information regarding drug issues. These include use, abuse, prevention and crime.
With the limited funding the Narcotics unit receives, they were still able to assist the Southern Colorado Drug Task Force by dismantling a major drug trafficking organization (DTO). These investigations have resulted in numerous arrests. In addition, the efforts of the narcotics unit over the past year has resulted in the seizure of numerous guns, heroin, methamphetamines, cocaine and marijuana (not related to medicinal purposes).
Congratulations to the hard working deputies of the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, Narcotics Unit.
August 18, 2010
On July 28, 2010, the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office received a tip from a concerned energy worker in regard to a residence in the 1700 block of Cougar Dr. in Pueblo West regarding excessive energy use, which he felt was suspicious.
The responding deputy also felt the information was suspicious and forwarded the information to the investigations unit for follow-up. The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit began an investigation of a possible illegal marijuana grow located at this residence. Corroborating evidence was gathered in order to obtain a search warrant for the residence.
On Friday Aug. 13th, 2010, the Narcotics Unit was granted a search warrant of the residence and it was executed. During the search, narcotics officers found that the entire basement was being used to cultivate marijuana plants. Detectives found approximately 120 marijuana plants growing in pots in the unfinished basement. A complex system of venting and hydroponics was also in place. No information could be verified indicating that this was anything other than an illegal grow. Three weapons including an SKS assault rifle and a ballistic vest were also found within the residence.
Through investigative efforts conducted by the unit, the following were identified as suspects in the alleged illicit marijuana growing operation and were arrested on the following charges:
Leyba, Joseph Michael (23 years old) Drummond, Coryanne Brooke (32 years old) Shaffer, Nicholas Christian (22 years old)
18-18-406 Possession with the intent to Distribute Marijuana class 4 Felony
18-18-406 Possession of Marijuana more than 12 ounces class 6 Felony
18-18-406 Cultivation of Marijuana class 4 Felony
18-18-207 Special Offender