Sting operation catches nine accused child predators on Western Slope
A sting operation in Garfield County involving federal, state and local law enforcement resulted in nine arrests of accused child predators.
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, said Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.
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 the idea up 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 press release. “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, Fetzer, showed up and was arrested.
Seven more suspects showed up allegedly seeking sex with children on 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.
One person, Shekeyah Jackson, 26, of Aurora, is charged with prostitution and was released on a summons.
The sheriff’s office noted that all accused persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The following eight people will be charged with 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 arrested some accused of seeking sex with children. Similar stings could occur at any time, Vallario added.
“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.