Informant tipped Aspen police on baseball-sized ball of coke
ASPEN – A visit to an Aspen apartment unit on Feb. 12, during which time an unnamed person saw a handgun and a baseball-sized chunk of cocaine, sparked a tip to authorities that led to this week’s arrest of two Eastern European immigrants, police allege in an arrest warrant affidavit filed Thursday.
On March 7 the person, described as a confidential informant in the affidavit, tipped off police about the drugs and gun, telling them that Andrian Arapu shaved powder off the chunk directly into a bindle. Arapu then sold the package for $100 to a person who had accompanied the confidential informant to the Alpina Haus, an East Durant Avenue apartment building where Arapu lived at the time, the affidavit says.
On Thursday, Arapu, 25, of Moldovia, and Yelena Inozemtseva, 24, of Russia, were advised in Pitkin County District Court of felony charges connected to cocaine possession and distribution following their arrests Wednesday at The Copper Horse apartment building on Main Street.
During the advisement hearing, both were aided by the assistance of a Russian interpreter, via speaker phone, while Judge Gail Nichols, from Glenwood Springs, advised them of the charges during the conference call.
Nichols set bond at $60,000 for each suspect, who also are in custody in the Pitkin County Jail on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holds.
Neither suspect spoke during Thursday’s hearing. Before it began, Inozemtseva, a sales supervisor at Theory Aspen clothing store, gave a thumbs-up sign to her husband and smiled. Arapu, a cook at Dominos Pizza, also smiled at three apparent acquaintances, including the husband, who sat in on the hearing.
Assistant District Attorney Arnold Mordkin said that while neither suspect appears to have a criminal history, he asked that their bonds be doubled because of the nature of the charges against them.
Each faces the class-two felony charge of possession with intent to sell or distribute at least 25 grams but no more than 400 grams of cocaine. The charge also carries a “special offender” component for possession of a deadly weapon for Arapu, and accuses Inozemtseva of having access to the gun.
The charge carries a mandatory state prison minimum of eight years, and a maximum term of 48 years.
The two also face class-four felony charge of possession of more than 4 grams of cocaine, which carries a prison-sentence of two to six years.
Mordkin told Judge Nichols he will likely file a felony charge against Arapu for forging documents. Arapu, Mordkin said, had a “blank Social Security card, and as the court knows, you can’t get a Social Security card illegally.”
The affidavit, meanwhile, revealed more details of Wednesday’s arrest and what police found after searching Arapu’s one-bedroom apartment at The Copper Horse.
Their findings, according to the affidavit, which was prepared by Aspen Police Investigator Walter Chi, included the following:
• Two blocks of cocaine – one weighing 22.9 grams, the other 17 grams (both tested positive for cocaine);
• multiple plastic baggies, many of which had a white powdery residue;
• straws with white powdery residue;
• hundreds of small baggies;
• three small baggies containing alleged cocaine;
• a scale designed as an iPod;
• screens and grinding equipment;
• what appeared to be prescription drugs;
• baggies and bottles contained a substance believed to be marijuana;
• and a loaded .38-caliber revolver.
Police spent nearly three hours at the residence collecting evidence, prompted by the arrests made earlier in the day.
Chi, in the affidavit, reported that police and ICE officials had been investigating Arapu since the Feb. 12 tip. They learned that he had overstayed his visa, and initial plans were to deport him to his home country.
On Wednesday morning, when ICE agents and police arrived at Arapu’s Copper Horse unit, he opened the door “and it remained open throughout the rest of the contact,” Chi wrote.
When an ICE agent asked Arapu for his identification and documentation, the suspect said he needed to look for them. He declined ICE agents’ request to come inside, but allowed Chi inside while he looked for his passport.
When Arapu provided an ICE agent with his passport, the agent asked about any weapons he might have. Arapu showed Chi a BB gun, and after some “furtive moments by Arapu,” an ICE agent detained him, Chi wrote.
As Arapu was leaving, he asked Chi to grab his cell phones from Inozemtseva. Chi, after encountering Inozemtseva, then relayed her personal information to ICE agents, who discovered that she also was in the country illegally. She was detained as well.
Meanwhile, an Aspen police officer saw what he believed were the grip and barrel of a revolver “protruding from under a hat,” Chi wrote. Around the same time, Chi spotted a large bag containing a white powdery substance under a coffee table. Chi also noticed several small baggies.
Shortly after their detainments, the two were also arrested on the drug and weapons charges, Chi wrote.
Both suspects are due back in court on Monday, April 18.
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