The Trinidad 40 – Another Drug War Failure!
On Thursday, December 19th 2013, a four month drug sting culminated in the arrest of 29 people, and the arrest warrants of 11 others in Trinidad, CO, and Raton, NM. What seems like a successful drug sting is starting to unravel and the details that are emerging paint a picture of a confidential informant (C.I. #130803) with an agenda, and an incompetent police force at best.
Two cases have been dismissed due to the fact that the alleged perpetrators were incarcerated at the time of the alleged crimes. Several more alleged defendants have professed their innocence. What does this say about the investigation? Did the police corroborate any of the evidence provided by C.I. #130803? Were the police complicit in framing these individuals?
On January 13, 2014, District Attorney Ruybalid disclosed the identity of confidential informant #130803 as convicted felon ******* ********.
Read the following excerpt from the “Motion to Compel Prosecution Of ******* ******** (C.I. #130803)” (Case No. 13-CR-288).
“The obviously dishonest reports to law enforcement against Ms. ***** and Mr. ****** appear to be part of a highly disturbing trend whereby (C.I. #130803) used her role as an informant to target people against whom she held some sort of personal grudge. For example, two other people against whom (C.I. #130803) leveled accusations regarding drug transactions were ****** ** ***** and ********* *********. In 2008, (C.I. #130803) was charged with attempting to kill these women, and both ****** ** ***** and ********* ********* provided evidence and testimony against (C.I. #130803). In this drug sting, (C.I. #130803) also accused ****** ******** of selling drugs; not surprisingly, Ms. ******** was (C.I. #130803) probation officer in the case for which (C.I. #130803) was on probation until mid-2012.”
What did C.I. ******* ******** receive for turning state’s evidence? Where did the drugs come from in the two cases that were dismissed? Who’s voices are heard on the audio recordings of the so called transactions?
We have obtained the arrest affidavits of the two cases that were dismissed so far. These two individuals were implicated solely on information provided by C.I. #130803. At this time we are unsure how many of the 40 people charged, were implicated by this particular C.I. We have reports that it could be as high as 20 out of the 40 charged.
We have obtained the arrest affidavits of two other alleged defendants. They are almost identical to the arrest affidavits of the 2 cases that were dismissed. We will release them at the appropriate time. We encourage any defendants involved in this case to contact us with any relevant information.
On February 20th, there was a “motion to dismiss” hearing for one of the alleged defendants. The public defender moved to dismiss based on the fact that the alleged perpetrator was in the Las Animas County Jail at the time of the crime. District Attorney Frank Ruybalid, asked Judge Leslie J. Gerbracht for time to meet with the police department to amend, or add additional charges. The judge initially granted the D.A. 48 hours to get back to her. Then several minutes later she reversed herself and told the D.A. that if he wanted to amend the charges, that he would have to decide “right now”. D.A. Ruybalid refused and agreed to dismiss the charges. The judge dismissed the charges with prejudice. Confidential informant ******* ******** did not show.
Judge Gerbracht initially signed the arrest affidavits involving these wrongfully implicated individuals. What safeguards were in place when she signed the affidavits? The detectives did not include any information regarding the C.I.’s criminal history or reliability, a standard practice while employing confidential informants. Did Judge Gerbracht rubber-stamp these arrest affidavits as is, without questioning the detectives, or did she ask the relevant questions? If she did ask the relevant questions, were the detectives deceptive in obtaining her approval?
On March 5th, three out of five charges against another of the alleged defendants were dismissed. Confidential informant ******* ******** did not show up to the preliminary hearing in which she implicated the defendant. A bench warrant was issued by Judge Gerbracht for (C.I. #130803), the bond was set at $10. Yes, you read that right, ten dollars.
On March 6th, four out of five charges against yet another of the alleged defendants were dismissed. Confidential informant ******* ******** did not show up to the preliminary hearing in which she implicated the defendant.
Media – Watchdog Or Lapdog?
Several news media outlets reported the original story. They named the individuals implicated and some have displayed photos of the alleged defendants. These organizations have a responsibility to investigate and report the truth. There has been no correction or follow-up to these articles. We will list some of the larger organizations with the original articles below. We encourage you to contact them and question their reporting practices?
“Media responsibility is a term for the belief that mass media have a basic responsibility to help strengthen and support democratic processes. Although this is a subjective concept, and hard to define, arguments have been made for newspapers, television, radio, and perhaps types of Internet communication to act as a government watchdog, as a gatekeeper and instrument to disseminate necessary information, and more popularly, as a reflection of cultural interests and trends.”
- Source: Wikipedia
The Trinidad Chronicle – Website (719) 846-3311
Original Story By Steve Block – email@example.com
Bruce Leonard – Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Allyson Sheumaker – Business Manager email@example.com
The Trinidad Chronicle has failed to report the truth. They are well aware of the latest developments but refuse to do a follow-up on the original story.
Drug Dragnet Nets 29 Arrests – The Pueblo Chieftain (719) 544-3520
By Anthony A. Mestas – News Reporter (719) 404-2764 firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Rawlings – Publisher and Editor email@example.com
Steve Henson – Managing Editor (719) 404-2750 firstname.lastname@example.org