Aspen cracks down on cocaine
Cocaine busts at two watering holes Friday may be only the tip of the iceberg, authorities say. “What we saw on Friday is just one sliver of this investigation,” said Drug Enforcement Agency spokeswoman Karen Flower. “There will absolutely be more search warrants, arrests and seizures stemming from this investigation.”The cocaine busts involved more than 50 members of various law enforcement agencies who descended upon Little Annie’s Eating House and Cooper Street Pier at roughly 4 p.m. Friday and made nearly 20 arrests. Officers seized an undisclosed amount of drugs and money, according to the Aspen Police Department. Law enforcement officials released few details about what they believe was going on at the two popular restaurants. “Weeks or months down the road we’ll be able to pull the whole picture together for you,” Flower said.To all appearances, the raid had little effect on business at Cooper Street or Little Annie’s, which were shut down Friday night. Both were packed with people on Saturday, though there was a sign in front of Cooper Street advertising the need for help in the kitchen, where some of the suspects who were arrested worked. About half of the people at Cooper Street didn’t know about the busts, and the other half didn’t seem to care. “It’s Aspen,” said Brian Nelson, who was at Cooper Street on Saturday, “there’s a lot of people who like to party in Aspen.” He said he wasn’t surprised and that he was happy the restaurant was open.”It doesn’t bother me at all that they’re not serving their ‘full menu,'” said Gavin Brooke, of Carbondale. “As long as a DEA agent doesn’t shoot me on the way in, I’m fine with it.”Another person sitting at the bar at Cooper Street, Matthew Coen, said he wasn’t surprised by the arrests because he knows someone who works at Little Annie’s. He said she had spoken openly of the issue and had assumed it was common knowledge in town. Eleven of the arrests were made by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents and were unrelated to the nine drug warrants issued. “That’s pretty common,” said Carl Rusnok, spokesman for ICE. “That’s why we get involved in these type of operations.”Flower said it was the best-planned and carried out operation she has been a part of in 14 years working for the DEA. “Speaking from a law enforcement perspective,” she said, “everyone was ecstatic with the results.” Bringing together 50 agents to carry out nine arrests and four search warrants with no injuries is a “tremendous success,” she said.The collaboration is somewhat unusual in the Roaring Fork Valley, though Flower said it was necessary. “DEA can’t do it alone, neither can anyone. We do the best and have the most impact on the community when we bring everyone together.”She said the DEA does not target users. “We look at people bringing it in,” she said. “We think that’s the best way to curtail use. If we take the supply away and combine that with treatment, then we can really make a difference.”
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