Basalt man accused of throwing chemical-laced bottle into river faces six felonies

Ricardo Parras-Membreno

A Basalt man arrested nearly three weeks ago for allegedly throwing chemical-filled bottles into the Roaring Fork River was charged with six felonies Monday.

Ricardo Parras-Membreno, 43, faces between 12 and 36 years in prison if convicted of all six counts of causing a hazardous substance incident, District Court Judge Chris Seldin said.

Meanwhile, Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott said an analysis of the bottles conducted March 20 and 21 discovered bleach, isopropyl alcohol, sodium acetate trihydrate, titanium oxide, starch and adhesive material, according to a statement.

The analysis — done by the Colorado National Guard 8th Civil Support Team at Buckley Air Force Base — also found photo paper and trace chemicals “consistent with photo paper and the ink used for photo development,” the statement says.

“Liquid contents in the bottles had pH levels ranging from 11-(to)-14,” according to Knott’s release. “Levels above 12.5 are considered corrosive.”

Basalt police found “several packages of developed photographs” at Parras-Membreno’s home, though none were illegal images, the statement says.

Parras-Membreno was arrested March 16 after police staked out a site near the 7-Eleven Bridge in Basalt where at least 74 bottles were thrown into the river dating back to the beginning of the winter. He initially claimed only water was in the bottles, which also were sealed with duct tape, though he eventually admitted they contained chemicals.

Parras-Membreno has not been clear about why he threw the bottles in the river. Police initially thought the chemicals might be the result of a methamphetamine-making operation, but found no trace of drugs in the bottles or Parras-Membreno’s home.

Parras-Membremo appeared in Pitkin County District Court on Monday afternoon and listened through a Spanish interpreter as Seldin read the charges filed against him.

The first count covers the period between November 2017 and Jan. 24, while the second lists Jan. 25 and Feb. 8, the third Feb. 9 to March 8, the fourth March 9, the fifth March 12 and the sixth March 16, according to court documents.

He is scheduled to be back in court May 7.