Two Breckenridge residents charged in Nashville marijuana bust netting 425 lbs of pot
December 2, 2014
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — Two Breckenridge residents have been arrested in connection with a Nashville, Tennessee, drug bust that netted more than 425 pounds of marijuana and nearly $355,000 in cash. The street value of the marijuana is estimated at around $1.7 million, according to police.
Nashville police say Breckenridge's Christopher Steven Crumbliss, 39, and Tasha Desmond, 21, were part of a group traveling around the country illegally selling high-grade marijuana from Colorado. Also arrested during the Nov. 20 sting operation was Silver City, New Mexico, resident Gary Chase, 60.
All three were initially charged with engaging in a marijuana distribution conspiracy and possession of more than 400 pounds of marijuana for resale. Chase was also charged with possessing a quarter ounce of cocaine and two grams of crystal meth. Chase is being held on $385,000 bond. Crumbliss and Desmond are both being held on $300,000 bond.
The investigation began, officials say, when local detectives learned that Crumbliss and Desmond had flown to Nashville from Colorado to broker a marijuana deal. The two checked into a motel on Nov. 19 and met with an undercover officer posing as a drug buyer. The officer was told that the marijuana would be arriving in town later in the night.
“The fact that marijuana remains illegal in Tennessee drives black market marijuana in that state,” he said. “If they legalized it, they wouldn’t have this problem. Prohibition drives crime.”
attorney and advocate of marijuana legalization
At 11:15 p.m. on Nov. 19, Chase arrived at the motel in a 2012 Dodge Ram pickup truck with a topper covering the bed, according to police. Crumbliss met Chase in the parking lot. The two prepared a marijuana sample from the truck bed and headed to a motel room rented by Desmond. After the undercover officer inspected the marijuana sample, it was agreed that the officer would purchase 100 pounds at another location. As the group exited the room, officers moved in and took them into custody.
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A search of truck, which had 234,000 miles on the odometer, revealed 425 pounds of high-grade marijuana valued at $1.7 million, $354,944 in cash, 17 "burner" cell phones with various states written on them, packaging material to band and wrap large amounts of money, and four pounds of hashish, according to police.
"The truck mileage and the phones clearly indicated that Chase was essentially on a marijuana tour of the country," police said in a written statement issued after the arrest.
Officers also seized more than $5,000 from Crumbliss when he was taken into custody.
Crumbliss was most recently in the news in August 2013 when his two pit bulls attacked and severely injured a 15-year-old beagle on Hoosier Pass during the USA Pro Challenge bicycle event. A sheriff's deputy shot and killed one of the pit bulls and Crumbliss was later cited and fined.
Crumbliss has also had three previous brushes with the law in connection with marijuana cultivation and distribution activities in a pre-Amendment 64 Colorado.
• In 2006, Crumbliss was pulled over in Jefferson County for not signaling a lane change. The officer found 36 marijuana plants in the car and suspected him of driving under the influence.
At the time, state law limited caregivers to five patients each and allowed for no more than six plants per patient. Crumbliss had more than that.
In July of 2007, however, a judge ruled in another case that it was unconstitutional to limit the number of patients a caregiver can serve.
Jefferson County officials dropped the marijuana-cultivation charges against Crumbliss because of the ruling. However, he was later found guilty of driving under the influence, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in a jury trial.
• In 2007, Crumbliss and his wife, Tiffany, were charged by Larimer County law enforcement for marijuana cultivation and marijuana possession with the intent to distribute. The Crumblisses argued they were caregivers protected under Colorado's medical marijuana laws and had enough patients to justify the number of plants they had cultivated. The charges against Tiffany Crumbliss were later dropped. Christopher Crumbliss, as part of an agreement with the court, pleaded guilty to felony marijuana cultivation, getting probation in lieu of prison time.
• In 2008, Larimer County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency obtained search warrants for Crumbliss' three homes in Larimer County and Blue River and confiscated more than 200 plants and more than 20 pounds of finished product and narcotics. Again the couple claimed the amount of product complied with state law. The raid did not result in criminal charges.
Tiffany Anne Crumbliss is currently the owner of Soul Shine Medical Consulting, a medical marijuana dispensary in Breckenridge. She officially took ownership of the business in January, according to town records. Tiffany Crumbliss categorically denied that the marijuana seized in Nashville came from her business. She said she was not aware of her husband's activities outside of the state.
"I really have no idea what he was doing," she said. "I really couldn't tell you."
She declined to comment further.
Her attorney, Sean McAllister, a well-known advocate of marijuana legalization, said that the Crumblisses were separated at the time of the Nov. 20 arrest and that Christopher Crumbliss has nothing to do with his wife's business because of his past criminal convictions.
"There's absolutely no connection between Christopher in Tennessee and Soul Shine in Colorado," McAllister said.
Breckenridge police chief Shannon Haynes said her department is concerned about marijuana finding its way out the back door of retail shops and dispensaries; however, she has no reason to believe that has happened under her watch. In general, she said local marijuana retailers are striving to comply with the law. She said that her department and the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division have recently ramped up inspections on local marijuana businesses.
The other Breckenridge resident arrested in the Tennessee drug bust, Tasha Desmond, most recently worked as a server at the Lost Cajun in Frisco. According to an employee at the restaurant, however, Desmond no longer works there. It is unclear what connection she has to Christopher Crumbliss.
Though he is not representing either Crumbliss or Desmond, McAllister criticized the state of Tennessee for continuing to criminalize marijuana.
"The fact that marijuana remains illegal in Tennessee drives black market marijuana in that state," he said. "If they legalized it, they wouldn't have this problem. Prohibition drives crime. This is another in a long line of messages to states like Tennessee that this approach is a failed approach."
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