Sting operation catches nine accused of soliciting a child prostitution in Garfield County
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
A sting operation in Garfield County involving federal, state and local law enforcement resulted in nine arrests on suspicion of soliciting child prostitution.
Working undercover in cooperation with state prosecutors and local law enforcement agencies, the Department of Homeland Security created posts online where potential predators visit to advertise sex with children, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.
From Thursday to Saturday morning, nine individuals communicated with the undercover agents and allegedly negotiated prices to purchase sex with children.
When the individuals showed up to allegedly engage in sex with a child, they were arrested.
“It’s pretty graphic and disgusting,” Vallario said.
Vallario credited Carbondale Police Chief Gene Schilling with bringing up the idea to law enforcement partners.
“Solicitation for child prostitution is common and victimizes the most innocent and vulnerable of all, our children,” Schilling said in a statement. “We are glad we were able to arrest these people before they had the chance to further their criminal actions.”
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” Vallario said. “We’re glad we can make these arrests, but we’re sad this exists in the community in the first place,” he added.
On the first night of the sting, only one person, Scott Fetzer, showed up and was arrested.
Seven more suspects showed up allegedly seeking sex with children Friday evening, and one arranged to meet Saturday morning, Vallario said.
Most of the nine people arrested are from Garfield County, and are being held in custody.
The arrests included a Glenwood Springs antiques dealer — Fetzer — in a case previously reported by the Post Independent after his Thursday arrest.
One person, Shekeyah Jackson, 26, of Aurora, is charged with prostitution and was released on a summons.
Eight people were arrested on suspicion of soliciting for child prostitution, and are being held in the Garfield County jail, according to the sheriff’s office.
Scott V. Fetzer, 60, of Glenwood Springs
Brian Alvarez, 29, of Glenwood Springs
Luis M. Noj-Pich, 33, of Rifle
Jose G. Cardenas, 39, of Rifle
Guillermo Carreon-Salinas, 31, of Rifle
Manuel Nava-Mauro, 26, of Carbondale
Mingma O. Sherpa, 51, of Avon
Jan Blewett, 35, of Crested Butte
Vallario said Garfield County has done similar stings in years past, and similar stings could occur at any time.
“We could do another one next week, next year, or two years down the road,” Vallario said.
Vallario noted that while nine people were caught in this operation, an unknown number of crimes against children occur without being prosecuted.
“It’s eye-opening, heartbreaking. The average person out there in the community doesn’t think this happens, but it does,” Vallario said.
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A former choir teacher at Basalt High School was sentenced Wednesday to 90 days in Garfield County Jail and an undetermined time on probation for a sexual relationship with a male student. Brittany von Stein, 26, was ordered to report to jail at 6 p.m. Wednesday.