’05 drug sting leads to prison term
ASPEN A district judge on Monday sentenced a man to 30 months in state prison in connection with the downtown drug raids two years ago. Candido Vergara-Hernandez, 29, was the last of 10 suspects to be sentenced in the wake of a six-month Drug Enforcement Agency sting operation that culminated on Dec. 2, 2005. More than 50 DEA agents and local law-enforcement officers joined in the après-ski raids at Cooper Street Pier and Little Annie’s Eating House. Under a plea deal, prosecutors dropped the charge of conspiracy to sell cocaine in exchange for a guilty plea to distribution, meaning Vergara-Hernandez was subject to a minimum prison sentence. Vergara-Hernandez was the only suspect not arrested during the raids, according to Aspen police. He was taken into custody in late March.Though Vergara-Hernandez was a fugitive, defense attorney Garth McCarty said he was at a rehabilitation center during the time he was wanted in Pitkin County. However, Assistant District Attorney Gail Nichols stated she could not find evidence that the treatment center even existed. Regardless, District Judge James Boyd said it was a mitigating circumstance that Vergara-Hernandez had gone to treatment and had been sober, as McCarty claimed, since December 2005. Court documents allege that Vergara-Hernandez, also known as Eric Vergara, sold cocaine to an undercover DEA agent at Cooper Street Pier on five separate instances. The documents indicate that Vergara-Hernandez sold $40 bindles of cocaine to the undercover agent on June 18, 2005 and on four other occasions throughout that summer.Of those previously arrested, seven pleaded guilty, charges were dropped against another, and a jury found one man, Fernando Leal-Ruiz, not guilty.Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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Local officials don’t think Aspen and Pitkin County residents are taking social distancing and isolation rules seriously enough, and reiterated Monday their importance in controlling the spread of the coronavirus.