Carbondale marijuana shop robbed at gunpoint by sock-handed bandits | SummitDaily.com

Carbondale marijuana shop robbed at gunpoint by sock-handed bandits

Ryan Summerlin
rsummerlin@postindependent.com

When the sole employee opening a Carbondale marijuana shop Monday morning unlocked the door to start the business day, two men walked in wearing hunting masks.

They had socks on their hands, perhaps having forgotten gloves, Mike Friend, owner of Sweet Leaf Pioneer marijuana store, told the Post Independent on Tuesday.

The robbers held the worker at gunpoint, stealing marijuana and about $1,000 in cash, Friend said.

Witnesses outside saw the robbers leave in a red Ford Mustang and called authorities, he said.

The robbers ditched the Mustang west of Carbondale on County Road 108, just inside Pitkin County, and officers searching for them believed they had switched cars, Carbondale police said. By this point, Garfield County sheriff's deputies and officer from the Glenwood Springs Police Department were assisting in the search.

Officers soon stopped a green Honda at county roads 117 and 125. Two people matching the description of the robbers were in the car, along with two other people.

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Friend praised quick thinking by witnesses and a quick response by police in capturing the men.

After questioning, all four people in the Honda were arrested on charges that Carbondale police said were of aggravated robbery of a controlled substance, a class 2 felony; complicity to commit aggravated robbery of a controlled substance, a class 2 felony; and false Imprisonment, a class 1 misdemeanor.

Aurturo-Nuno Cervantes, 20, of Glenwood Springs; Erick Jose Colon, 25, of Glenwood Springs; and Bryan Flores-Calix,19, of Silt, were taken to Garfield County Jail. A 17-year-old was released to his parents. It's unclear which two people are accused of actually holding up Sweet Leaf Pioneer.

Flores-Calix in April was charged with felony trespass, theft, false reporting and criminal mischief in an incident involving his green Honda Civic. According to his arrest affidavit at the time, Flores-Calix offered $100 to an irate Silt resident to not call police after he took the hood off the man's car on the night of April 6.

He told police he spotted the white Honda Civic shortly after the hood on his own green Civic fell off. He followed the car home, unbolted the hood and was setting it into place on his car when he was confronted by the owner.

Robberies of marijuana stores appear to be rare since Colorado in 2014 legalized sale of the drug to people 21 and older. The Colorado Department of Revenue's Marijuana Enforcement Division does not keep count of such robberies, said Ro Silva, the department's director of communications, though the agency would investigate cases in which marijuana is stolen from stores.

The stores are all-cash businesses because their product is illegal under federal law, scaring banks and credit card companies away from handling money from drug sales. Shops are required by Colorado regulators to have video surveillance equipment.

In the only other known pot shop robbery in the region since legalization, Aspen's Stash was held up July 28 by a man armed with a hammer.

Hayden May, 21, is charged in that case with, among other things, aggravated robbery of a controlled substance while armed with a deadly weapon. If he's convicted of that count, he faces a minimum prison term of 16 years and a maximum of 48 years.

May also is charged with felony theft, which mandates a prison term of one to three years upon conviction, as well as a harassment charge, which calls for a term of as long as six months. He also was expected to face a charge of aggravated motor vehicle theft, the Aspen Times reported in August.

After fleeing the store, authorities said, May stole a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe from a former employer and apparently headed east on Interstate 70. He was arrested in St. Louis, Missouri, after a chase that reached speeds of 100 mph, ending with May's vehicle colliding head-on with a police car, according to St. Louis police.

In Missouri, he was charged with felony assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon, felony resisting arrest and possession of a controlled substance.