Aspen Officials Blast DEA Over Unannounced Arrests

The Pitkin County Commissioners in Aspen met a few weeks ago and condemned the DEA's recent bust of a group of retirement-age drug suspects. More here.

Yesterday they wrote the DEA a letter, lambasting the agency for not telling local law enforcement what they were up to. The Commissioners urge the DEA to "“reconsider the directive you've given to your field agents and employees that places innocent people at risk.”

The letter has more details of the meeting between DEA and local law enforcement after the most recent bust.

“They were informed by [DEA] Agent [Jim]Schrant that he was brought into our community to ‘clean up … Aspen.' Our law enforcement representatives were told that the DEA tactics were necessary because he could not trust law enforcement in Pitkin County or the City of Aspen,” the county's letter reads. “Our law enforcement officials were told that if anything catastrophic were to happen that the ‘blood would be on their hands.' This is of course an incorrect assessment of legal liability.”

The feud between the DEA and local law enforcement in Aspen goes back decades. It's a public safety issue. Here's one incident from 1975 that reads like something out of a television script:

[The letter] notes a 1975 event in Aspen in which federal agents, acting alone in attempting to make an arrest, resulted in a confrontation with Aspen police who were responding to a report of men with firearms walking around a residence.

“Officers from both agencies confronted each other with weapons at the ready,” the letter states. “Luckily, no one was hurt.”

The DEA has said the drug investigation is continuing. Since court pleadings show they used wiretaps, pole cameras and physical surveillance to investigate those recently arrested, it's a good bet the surveillance is ongoing.

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    That is so rich... (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 12:25:42 PM EST
    DEA saying Pitkin County authorities can't be trusted...trusted to tyrannize the people they swore to serve and protect?  Is that what you're saying DEA?

    Good exhibits if we ever get a hearing to classify the DEA as a domestic terrorist organization, as they so justly and richly deserve.

    kdog I knew you would be the first to comment (none / 0) (#2)
    by republicratitarian on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 01:24:27 PM EST
    I wonder if local and state authorities have any recourse against federal authorities when it comes to cases like this?

    I suppose the locality could sue... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 03:42:03 PM EST
    the feds...a recourse to nowhere.

    I was thinking something a bit more overt (none / 0) (#4)
    by republicratitarian on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 05:08:09 PM EST
    Harass them, follow them, surveillance, pull them over for speeding, etc. S.W.A.T. raid based on an anonymous tip, confiscate computers.

    I like how you think:)... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 05:14:43 PM EST
    but from Jeralyn's many posts on Aspen/Pitkin law enforcement, they seem like the extremely rare outfit that takes protect and serve and keep the peace seriously...and do it fairly sanely.

    Those are DEA-type manuevers...that sh*t would happen to any locality that protest too much.


    Everything the DEA (none / 0) (#6)
    by Chuck0 on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 09:15:04 AM EST
    guy Jim Schrant said sounded liked a good argument for ending the "War on Drugs/American people."