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DEA's Aspen Drug Bust Informant May Have Had Cover Blown; Unclear How Name Released

The Huffington Post    
First Posted: 06/27/11 04:53 PM ET Updated: 08/27/11 06:12 AM ET

A late-May drug bust in Aspen, Colorado that put the kibosh on a cocaine smuggling operation has led to increased tension between law-enforcement officials there.

When the federal Drug Enforcement Agency took out the Aspen operation, it failed to notify the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office and Aspen Police. The DEA at first discounted the failure to notify as a simple mistake, easily overlooked. However, later reports state that a lack of trust between the agencies prompted the silence.

“Unfortunately, we were not in a position to make the standard notification in this case other than trying to de-conflict it and make it as safe as possible for the community and the agents involved." DEA special agent Jim Schrant said, "And the reason we weren't able to do that fuller notification was because of the relationship of Joe DiSalvo and [former sheriff] Bob Braudis and several targets of this investigation who were being arrested.”

The bust, as HuffPost's Michael Conniff argues, provides for the first time

"hard evidence that former Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis gave his blessing for over two decades to rampant and unrestrained cocaine trafficking, a policy that continues without apology under his successor, Joe DiSalvo. Both Braudis and DiSalvo proudly refused (and refuse) to either go undercover or to enforce existing drug laws in Pitkin County."

Aspen's intra law-enforcement relationships may yet deteriorate further. As The Aspen Times reports, the confidential informant responsible for leading DEA agents to the bust has had his or her name surface many times in the last month, likely blowing their cover. It's unclear how the informant's name was released, but an email late last week circulated with a picture and the subject line: "contract is out. ... I'm offering $2 for the skin, dead or alive."

It's estimated that the ring, which led to six arrests in Aspen and three in Lost Angeles may have smuggled in excess of $5 million of cocaine through Aspen over the last fifteen years.

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