Con Games: In Aspen, Massive Cocaine Consumed by Locals

05/25/2011 06:01 pm ET | Updated Jul 25, 2011

The vast majority of the 500 pounds of cocaine brought by local dealers into the Aspen community in the last decade was consumed by locals, according to Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Resident Agent in Charge Jim Schrant.

"Five hundreds pounds of cocaine would be substantial in any city," Schrant said, "let alone a community the size of Aspen. This is an excessive amount for a community of similar size. This is a lot."

Schrant, based in Grand Junction, Colorado, also said there are "several other organizations" trafficking in drugs in the Western Slope community and that the cocaine bust last week affected "just one part of the drug pipeline into Aspen" with additional arrests expected. The DEA, Garfield County, and regional TRIDENT officers all participated in a bust of drug suspects based in Aspen -- an investigation that cut out the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office because of what Schrant called the "close relationship" between Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, former Sheriff Bob Braudis, and the dealers arrested in Aspen.

Not only were locals consuming cocaine in copious amounts, Schrant said, but local dealers and users were doing it "in typical hangouts and watering holes in Aspen and Pitkin County. Suffice it to say public areas. "

"That's unique for us," Schrant said. "Based on the investigation we covered. They weren't as clandestine or trying to operate under the radar. We do find it unusual to operate so long with so much overt activity. The deals were done out in the open in public places with no real attempts to evade surveillance. For us that's a very unusual thing."

The DEA Resident Agent in Charge attributed the deals in plain sight to the "insular nature of the Aspen community. Anywhere else you'd be getting crime-stoppers tips phone. We actually did receive these tips, but only toward the end of the investigation."

Schrant said he had "no idea" if tips were phoned into the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office or the Aspen Police Department because such information is "not shared with us."