Alleged Aspen heroin dealer to go to trial
December 12, 2008
ASPEN ” A judge found Friday there was probable cause to try Nelson Raul-Gamez on multiple felony counts in connection with a heroin distribution network that reached into Aspen, and spawned several arrests.
Senior District Court Judge David Lass made the determination at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing at Garfield County District Court. Lass also ruled that Raul-Gamez, 24, is to stand trial in Summit County where some of the alleged offenses took place.
Raul-Gamez, also known as Franklin Gamez Barriento, stands accused of nine felonies that range from conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance to possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
He faces decades in prison if convicted on all counts. Raul-Gamez entered a not guilty plea Friday. He is being held on $40,000 bail at the Garfield County jail, where he has been locked up for about six months following his arrest June 19.
That was the same day Raul-Gamez allegedly participated in one of two drug deals with Ryan Welgos, 31, of Aspen, according to testimony Friday from officer Justin Wareham of the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team.
Wareham said he picked up Welgos at his Aspen home June 19, in order to give him a ride to meet Raul-Gamez in Silverthorne to complete a drug deal. Wareham, who was working undercover at the time, said he drove Welgos to the parking lot of a fast food restaurant where he met up with Raul-Gamez, 24.
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Wareham said on the way to Silverthorne, Welgos called Raul-Gamez in order to let him know they were en route. Once at the location, Wareham said Welgos hooked up with Raul-Gamez and completed a heroin transaction with $1,200 in marked bills that were provided by the officer.
Although Wareham said he did not see the drugs, or money, change hands he assumed that a deal had been consummated and gave the “bust signal.”
Welgos and Raul-Gamez were arrested. Welgos was found to be in possession of a substance believed to be heroin.
Authorities later tested the drug to ensure it was heroin. They also validated the gross weight, 31.3 grams, including the packaging, Wareham said.
In earlier testimony Friday, Wareham said a confidential informant in Aspen introduced him to Welgos.
That led to the first of the two alleged drug deals.
Wareham said Welgos had arranged to meet, “Jose,” his supplier May 15 in Evergreen. Once at the location, a discount store parking lot, Wareham said that Welgos allegedly bought heroin with marked money provided by the officer.
Wareham later identified the supplier, “Jose,” as Raul-Gamez. He said a subsequent test by the Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed the drug was heroin. The test also validated the weight.
The arrests of Raul-Gamez and Welgos were the result of a three-month investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, following the March 23 overdose death of Aspen visitor Adam Peterson.
It is not clear when Raul-Gamez will stand trial in Summit County. Lass moved the trial in response to a motion filed by defense attorney Kathy Goudy, who argued Raul-Gamez had a right to be tried in a county where one of the alleged transactions took place.
Welgos has a plea agreement in the works, in which he would plead guilty to attempted distribution of a schedule I controlled substance. In exchange, prosecutors would drop a number of related counts against him.
Should a judge approve the deal, he would receive a suspended sentence of three to six years in prison provided he entered and completed drug court.
A third suspect in the case, Gregory Elston, pleaded guilty last month to possession of a schedule II substance as part of a plea agreement that will drop a heroin distribution charge against the Aspen resident.
He was sentenced to two years of supervised probation, and handed a deferred judgment. Elston was also ordered to continue counseling, undergo additional random tests and do 75 hours of public service.