Alleged ringleader strikes deal in Aspen cocaine case
Ryan Summerlin November 19, 2011
DENVER – Wayne Alan Reid, the suspected ringleader of a cocaine trafficking ring claimed by federal agents to have ties to Mexican drug cartels, has tentatively settled his case.
On Friday, Reid’s attorneys filed a notice of disposition in the U.S. District Court in Denver, indicating that the 65-year-old longtime Aspen resident is ready to change his not-guilty plea, which he entered in June.
Reid has been in custody, without bond, since he was arrested May 19 at his Aspen home. He was among six Aspen-Snowmass residents, and four from the Los Angeles area, who were indicted by a Denver federal grand jury April 19.
Based on court testimony and documents from the case, Drug Enforcement Administration officials considered Reid the primary figure in the network they said ran high volumes of cocaine between Aspen and Los Angeles for 15 years.
Reid faced nine felony counts: one charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine; six counts of distribution and possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and aiding and abetting; and two counts of distribution and possession with intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine and aiding and abetting.
Convictions to all charges carried up to a lifetime behind bars for Reid, who has prior drug convictions. With Reid’s case tentatively settled, the only remaining local defendant yet to settle his case is Jack Fellner, 61, of Aspen, who remains scheduled to go to trial in February.
Reid became a target of federal agents after a confidential informant approached the DEA’s Glenwood Springs office in March 2010, according to court records.
An investigation, fueled by tips from the informant, led to a July 2010 traffic stop of Reid in Garfield County, near Rifle.
That day, Reid was pulled over after the Toyota Highlander he was driving went 80-81 mph in a 75-mph zone, near mile marker 90 on Interstate 70, according to a warrantless arrest affidavit filed by Corp. Brent Baker of the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.
Officers, learning that Reid’s driver’s license had been stripped in 2007 by the Colorado Department of Revenue following a November 2007 DUI charge in Aspen, arrested Reid for driving with a revoked license, changing lanes while unsafe and speeding.
When officers conducted an inventory of the car, they found and seized $116,000 in cash.
Reid’s driving continued to attract the attention of law enforcement, and most recently, on April 8, he was flagged by Mesa County deputies for going 80 in a 75-mph zone on I-70 near the Utah border.
After he was stopped, deputies noticed that his driver’s license had a special provision that he could only drive with a breath-alcohol interlock device, which the rental car he was driving did not have. Reid was required to have an interlock device, which starts the ignition only if the driver is sober, after being arrested for driving under the influence in Aspen in November 2007.
Reid, according to an affidavit, “appeared extremely nervous” when deputies questioned him. He was then booked for failing to drive without an interlock device. Deputies later arranged to have the vehicle towed to the nearest Avis car rental business; in the meantime, the deputies’ inventory search of the vehicle yielded a brick of cocaine weighing more than 1 kilogram, the affidavit says.
Eleven days after the April 8 stop, the grand jury issued its indictment, also known as a true bill, for the 10 defendants.
Aside from the traffic stops, DEA surveillance and wiretapping revealed him allegedly buying and selling cocaine in Aspen, Nevada and California.
One investigating officer, during a detention hearing for Reid held in June, also testified that Reid had close ties to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, based on intelligence that former Sheriff Bob Braudis and current Sheriff Joe DiSalvo attended a party for Reid’s 65th birthday in April.
It was for that reason that the DEA did not notify Pitkin or Aspen law-enforcement officials when they made the May 19 arrests, causing a rift between the agencies. Both Braudis and DiSalvo have said the DEA overreacted and they merely knew Reid but were not closely associated to him.