Aspen police break up alleged coke deal
Aspen police chased a lumberjack through downtown Aspen early Sunday morning before arresting him on suspicion of dealing cocaine, while they also nabbed one of his alleged customers, a restaurant employee.
Ian James White, 21, of Snowmass Village, and Robert Joseph Rice, 29, of Aspen, were advised Monday of the possible charges they face in Pitkin County District Court.
Judge Gail Nichols set bond at $25,000 for White, the lumberjack, who faces separate felony charges of possession and distribution of cocaine as well as the misdemeanor offense of resisting arrest.
Rice, who works at an Aspen restaurant as a server’s assistant, was the alleged buyer and faces a felony charge of possession of cocaine and two misdemeanor offenses of violating a protection order, from a previous case, forbidding him from consuming alcohol or illegal substances. Nichols set his bond at $3,500.
Both suspects remained in the custody of Pitkin County Jail as of 5:55 p.m. Monday.
According to two affidavits explaining his warrantless arrests, Aspen Police Officer Adam Loudon wrote that he spotted White and Rice in the walkway above Ellina restaurant at 430 E. Hyman Ave. at 2:05 a.m. Sunday.
“I know from my training and experience that people will go into that area to conduct illegal activities,” Loudon wrote.
Loudon reported seeing a hand-off taking place between the two, and as he approached them, the officer “observed Rice attempt to hide what he had received from White.”
White tried to conceal a prescription bottle containing a white, powdery substance, and when Loudon grabbed his wrist, White dropped the bottle and some money and fled, Loudon’s affidavit alleges.
While one police officer had Rice in custody, Loudon and another cop chased White through the Hyman Avenue outdoor mall, south on Galena Street and in the alley between the 400 blocks of East Hyman Avenue and East Cooper Avenue, Loudon wrote.
White’s alleged escape ended when he tripped on a planter’s box on Mill Street, where he was arrested.
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The Vail Town Council has repealed the requirement to wear facial coverings outdoors in the town’s resort villages. The original outdoor mandate was passed in November as an effort to maintain a semblance of a full ski season.