Drug enforcement checkpoint on I-25: Five tickets, two arrests out of 32 stops

Categories: News

drug checkpoint sign.jpg
Update:On August 9, the Westminster Police Department manned a "DRUG ENFORCEMENT CHECKPOINT" on I-25. Last week, WPD Investigator Trevor Materasso confirmed the operation, but didn't have many details. Now, however, he's able to provide the specifics. Officers issued tickets or made arrests in just over 20 percent of the total stops, uncovering a potpourri of drugs and cash in the process.

According to Materasso, the checkpoint took place from 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on the 9th, with officers stationed near the 144th Avenue exit. During that five-hour period, "we made contact with 32 different vehicles," Materasso says, "and we issued five summonses, or traffic tickets."

Four of these citations were for "individuals driving under some type of restraint," he continues. "That could be for an alcohol-related offense, a license that had been revoked for excessive points of a variety of other reasons why a driver's status was listed as restrained or suspended." WPD reps also "issued a petty municipal summons for possession of marijuana with an expired medical marijuana card."

In addition, the WPD executed two drug-related arrests. In one, Materasso says, "we recovered just over sixteen grams of ecstasy and 29 Xanax pills, and a little under $1,000 in cash." And the second? "It was for over four-and-a-half pounds of marijuana and close to $3,500 in cash." The information provided to Materasso makes no mention of a medical marijuana claim related to the latter bust, and that's standard procedure if MMJ is offered as a defense.

Does the Westminster department see these results -- five tickets and two arrests over a five-hour period -- as evidence of success? Will more such checkpoints be put in place down the line?

"We're definitely in an evaluation period," Materasso note. "There has not been a decision about setting up another similar drug interdiction kind of contact, but it's obviously something the police department wants to be familiar with and aware of. Drug trafficking and drug sales and those kinds of things are changing. When the criminal element figures out how we investigate certain crimes, they modify how they do things so they don't get caught. So we're constantly in the battle of adjusting and changing our tactics -- trying to be proactive in the way we indentify these crimes and handle them."

Look below to read our previous coverage.

Original item, 12:30 p.m. August 12: On Tuesday night just shy of midnight, a Westword reader was traveling on Interstate 25 near the 144th Street exit when he saw an electronic sign that read: "DRUG ENFORCEMENT CHECKPOINT AHEAD (Canines in Use)." Also nearby -- a squad car and a cone zone.

What's the story?

Figuring out the outfit involved wasn't easy. The Adams County Sheriff's Office, the Colorado State Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Administration had no knowledge of the operation, and calls to the North Metro Drug Task Force weren't returned.

Finally, however, Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Stacy Stegman confirmed that the sign in question belonged to CDOT -- and that the agency had allowed it to be used by the Westminster Police Department, whose public information officer, Investigator Trevor Materasso, provides some background.

"It was specifically a drug interdiction checkpoint set up similar to a DUI checkpoint," he says, adding that "this was the first drug-specific interdiction that we set up in this format. Some of our officers recently were trained on some new methods to use in doing drug interdiction -- so this is something we haven't done before."

At this point, Materasso doesn't have many details from the operation, beyond noting that several tickets were written for what he calls "traffic-related issues." In addition, he says, "we did recover a small amount of cash that was associated with drugs -- marijuana and ecstasy."

Materasso says more information should be available next week -- at which point we'll update this post. In the meantime, consider the checkpoint to be a sign of the times.

More from our News archive: "Pit bulls at center of two shootings by Colorado police officers in two days."

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79 comments
Stevebeast
Stevebeast

just coat your carpets with perethin or any good bed bug poison and hope to have your rights violated

Racerx87
Racerx87

Boo boo more government involvement

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

I was anti-violence on this matter, but the time has come for medical marijuana patients to arm themselves to defend themselves and their stash against thee fascist pigs in Colorado.  Any cop killers move to the front of the line please!

Guest
Guest

Since Bob Chase has the loudest mouth on this issue, he should go first. Attack, Bob! Get 'em! Bwahahahahahaha!

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

This is only grim, not funny.  Over three percent of the population are criminal defendants and a significant fraction of the entire prison population is there due to offenses related to cannabis.  There are just laws too, and those who work to uphold Law have been placed in an impossible position by Prohibition -- the many who support it simply are the enemies of our Constitution and People.

Boulder Med Cannabis
Boulder Med Cannabis

" WPD reps also "issued a petty municipal summons for possession of marijuana with an expired medical marijuana card." Doctors recs in Colorado are good for FOREVER. The OPTIONAL state registry allows people to use dispensaries. If your Dr. didn't revoke his authorization, that rec stands! Lawyer Up!

YMMV
YMMV

Looks like Westminster PD is unfamiliar with the Constitution.  More specifically, the 4th Amendment.  It reads "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."  Not seeing any probable cause here.

And, as pointed out, the Supreme Court has ruled that drug checkpoints are illegal.  See City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32 (2000).  Border Patrol checkpoints, ok.  DUI checkpoints, ok.

Looks like every person arrested should be contacting a lawyer.  Better yet, see if the ACLU is interested.  The taxpayers of Westminster will probably be footing the bill for this illegal checkpoint.   Lawsuits can be expensive.  

Mark Montgomery
Mark Montgomery

Michael Roberts: Why don't you ask Westminster HOW they can do this in violation of a US Supreme Court ruling that says these drug stops are illegal? Can you please get the WHOLE story?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C...

City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32 (2000), was acase in which the Supreme Court of the United States limited the power of lawenforcement to conduct suspicionless searches, specifically, usingdrug-sniffing dogs at roadblocks. Previous Supreme Court decisions had giventhe police power to create roadblocks for the purposes of border security (United States v. Martinez-Fuerte), and removingdrunk drivers from the road (Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz). Thisdecision stated that the power was limited to situations in which the searchwas "designed to serve special needs, beyond the normal need for lawenforcement."

commonsense
commonsense

Don't want to go to jail, don't transport drugs.  Seems pretty simple to most people. keep up the good work Westminster.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

I am a pot head and I have the right to transport my drugs and defend my property and person!

ryan
ryan

Common sense to red blooded americans says we aren't subjected to search and seizure without probable cause and/or a warrant, get a clue fool.  These searches are clearly unconstitutional, dui and drug checkpoints both.  The police state is creeping and we all keep allowing it, each of us have a responsibility to stand up for our rights.  TSA with their hands down our pants, cops looking for excuses to harass citizens, border patrol agents searching citizens 100 miles inside our borders....they keep creeping with more and more abuse.  This isn't by accident, they are getting us used to the police state inch by inch. A few years down the road we won't be lining up for the airplane, it will be something much worse we line up for.  Gotta wake the sheeple up before it's too late.    

csteel
csteel

You are missing common sense. The police have no right to stop you unless you are breaking the law. I believe its the 4th Amendment. Look into, because its truly common sense.

Jereme Fishel
Jereme Fishel

Ray LaHood is still sore over FAA, rural airports, and Senator Rockafeller. "If I cant win against the Dems I'll get back at their liberal marijuana asses and set up drug checkpoints".

Jesse Grimm
Jesse Grimm

The First of what I do Believe to be many more of these "Come to us so we can arrest you" style arrests.... Hook... Line... Sinker... Gottcha!

Jen
Jen

I live in southern Arizona part-time and to leave the city we live in you have no choice but to drive through Border Patrol Checkpoints. I'm "caucasian", and have nothing to hide and am glad they are protecting our borders. However, my husband and myself have been harassed more than once, been taken to secondary inspection where agents removed us from our vehicle, ripped apart our car- removing our luggage and opening it on the side of the highway, put a dirty german shepherd in our car that scratched up our car and left dirt throughout, and then when they found nothing they turned and walked away without saying thank you for your cooperation, were extremely rude to us the whole time and left all our belongings in the dirt. We have heard from many female friends who now refuse to drive alone leaving the city due to border patrol agents harrassing them much worse, claiming to "strip search" them if they do not confess to having drugs! I agree with keeping our roads safe, however we need to have much more oversight and we as citizens need to draw the line at some point where the government and police cannot harrass us as much as they do. If we continue to allow the police to have checkpoints for this and for that, where will it lead us 5-10 years from now? What has happened to our Constitutional rights?  

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Very interesting post, Jen. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Bob
Bob

what happened to your constitutional rights?  they were taken away while you sat on your ass asking what happened to your constitutional rights on the internet instead of fighting to get them back... that's what.  

Jen
Jen

In response to yours Bob, the reason we didn't fight back is because my husband was a former force protection officer in the navy and kept telling me to let them do what they want, as long as we don't escalate the situation by refusing anything that they shouldn't harm us physically. In addition, there was a video released on the news just prior to what happened to us where a local Pastor refused to allow the BP agents to search his vehicle (because they had done it many times before and he was fed up because he had nothing to hide) and they smashed his car window, tazored him, pulled him from the vehicle and then continued to beat him. This is the link to the video: http://youtu.be/bJF5cUWXA_A   this shows his camcorder and the surveillance video. Jereme you are right, the patriot act is what allows BP to have the right to do whatever whenever regardless of what the Constitution says as long as its within 100 miles of the border. We all joke around that living in Yuma, AZ is similar to being in East Berlin before the fall of the berlin wall, they even have vans that drive around listening to cell phone conversations trying to find "drug dealers". I can't wait to move home to Colorado as soon as our time here is done.  

Jesse Grimm
Jesse Grimm

... to the people who claim they have constitutional rights.... I have one of the many many answers to that.... PATRIOT ACT... and many many others that have gone into affect in recent years... 

Dfw
Dfw

Drug Enforcement checkpoints were ruled unconstitutional but not DUI checkpoints.  Ergo, anyone stopped at this checkpoint should get an attorney, push the issue, and have it thrown out of court. Congruently, when they are finished, they have one heck of a civil rights issue.  I would imagine that each defendant would get in upwards of 25k per incident (or more depending on length of time held, as well as damage done to their lives, careers, etc.).  Remember CO, we still live in the United States and CO MUST adhere to the Constitution.  Whomever came up with this idea needs to be 'canned'...

Light Rail Tattler
Light Rail Tattler

Be careful a lawyer may get you nothing but a prison sentence: 55 years for selling 8 ounces of Weed upheld by U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

http://www.famm.org/Repository...

Anon
Anon

That's why you don't have guns around if you sell drugs.

Light Rail Tattler
Light Rail Tattler

Read it again. The police never saw a gun. No guns were entered as Exibits.The gun, filed off serial number did not exist.The crime of selling 8 ounces of Weed occured in Utah by a Rap music producer.The Mormons don't want gangsta Rap in Salt Lake City; that's why they gave this guy 55 years.

                http://www.famm.org/Repository...

Light Rail Tattler
Light Rail Tattler

Just because someone gets a lawyer doesn't mean they won't go to prison.This guy got 55 years upheld by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for selling 8 ounces of Weed.

https://www.famm.org/Repositor...

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

A whole lot of rabid, insensate animals infest our criminal injustice system, masquerading as officers of the Law, prosecutors, and judges.  A free people would not be ruled by such monsters.

Ray Denonville
Ray Denonville

I don't see how the authorities can have any credibility after the Dang Tang shake down attempt by the North Metro Task Force.The North Metro Task Force led by Sergeant Carbone, Detective Garcia and Detective Ball along with 26 other Detectives sent out a letter clearly written by someone in law enforcement that understood wiretaps and communications tipping off Dan Tang that he was going to be busted for growing 24,000 Weed Plants. The authorities in the letter wrote:  "call this number 000-000-0000 and not from your phone" I have read the letter and the plea-agreement entered into United States District Court and I am convinced  the letter was written by the cops and it was an attempt to shakedown Dan Tang.Twenty Six Detectives from Metro Denver Police Departments including Denver, Lakewood, Brighton, Weld County, Adams County, Jefferson County and Denver County District Attorney's Office all refused polygraph tests except Sergeant Carbone and Detective Garcia who both failed the Polygraph tests. Sergeant Carbone was promoted from Sergeant to Commander for willing to take the Polygraph test but failed.Dan Tang instead of calling the phone number took $400,000.00 to the Vice President of the Board of Directors of RTD, Noel Busk to hold for him which the Vice President of RTD did.I have Zero faith in RTD, North Metro Task Force or Denver Regional Council Of Governments. 

AncientMedicine
AncientMedicine

SPYING ON FIRST AMENDMENT ACTIVITY - STATE-BY-STATE LIST FROM THE ACLU:

http://www.aclu.org/spy-files/...

Please take a look at the above list; share it with friends; and let your elected reps know that spying on law-abiding Americans is entirely unacceptable, and it takes the collective law enforcement/Govt eye off of real threats. Senator Udall has repeatedly said that Americans would be "shocked," if they knew the extent of domestic spying on law-abiding Americans, but he refuses to inform his constituents of any of the details. But I'm hoping this ACLU list may help to touch on some of the domestic spying issues Udall feels he cannot share with us.

Michael, could Westword possibly run an article regarding this list that the ACLU has put-together, with some personal interviews from some of the victims? Spying on Americans for exercising their First Amendment rights is definitely "newsworthy," and I think most Americans don't have the slightest clue that our domestic spying apparatus has grown exponentially since 9-11 and is "netting" people who don't like fluoride or who choose to "home-school" (just two of the many examples)

When the government casts a net so large that it ensnares tens of thousands of innocent people, the govt is more apt to miss the real threats, and to harass law-abiding Americans.

Please take a look at the above link. I was blown away by the number of abuses and the innocent groups of people who have been targeted, and I thought I kept up with Government Abuse.

Sunnysideup
Sunnysideup

I would be awesome to know that officials coordinating these checkpoints read these comments and realize that its US against YOU GUYS! There is way more of US than YOU!! In the end we will win and you will go back to actually serving and protecting us. Until all these old ass, moronic bastards are all voted out of office, we may as well just keep complaining.

malasangre
malasangre

thats what we said in the 60s.  apparently there is an endless supply of govt douche bags

Druid0621
Druid0621

The drug problem will never end, until we treat addicts like criminals instead of sick victims.  Go after the demand side as well as the suppliers.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

You and yours are like an enormous pack of rabid dogs loosed upon society.  You fascist scum turned the "land of the free" into the world's leading jailer -- the United States imprisons more of its own people than any other nation on Earth!  Everyone who supports our current drug laws should tie a millstone around their necks and throw themselves into the sea, and save patriots the trouble of dispatching them to Hell.

Get back to trolling the worst newspaper of its size's blogs, where you moronic wingnuts belong!

Derka Duh!
Derka Duh!

Dude.... People will take you more seriously if you don't have to resort to insults.  Do it with logic.  The internet will be a much nicer place if you can refrain from trolling, yourself.

El Jefe
El Jefe

why don't you go fold your socks you uptight, mindless, spineless d-bag? You're by far the biggest ass hat trolling these parts.

Stevebeast
Stevebeast

I always keep a nice coating of peretherin on the floorboards of my car for just this occasion

Horse With No Name
Horse With No Name

Fascism is alive and well in Westminster. Maybe they should go house to house with their drug dogs, because trust me, if they could they would.

Thedawg
Thedawg

(Sigh) yet another reason to dramatically slash law enforcement budgets in Colorado. If they have time to do this, and the overtime money, perhaps it's time to lay some officers off. Not to mention that numerous studies have shown these "checkpoints" are ineffective. Funny, this Materasso joker basically said it was ineffective...It's more authoritarian BS from the authoritarians... 

Matt in Boulder
Matt in Boulder

I guess "effectiveness" is in the eye of the beholder.  He got some cash.  Probably pocketed some for himself. 

"we did recover a small amount of cash that was associated with drugs -- marijuana and ecstasy."

Boulder Med Cannabis
Boulder Med Cannabis

what does that mean, 'associated with"?

did they find "drugs -- marijuana and ecstasy" ?

how else would cash be associated with it? Did they find someones bankroll and the dog sniffed drugs on it? That's ALWAYS bogus as *most* of the cash in the US tests positive for drug residue.

http://www.snopes.com/business...

ConcernedCOPatient
ConcernedCOPatient

So what about us patients that carry medicine on us? Colorado is starting to be one of the most hypocritical states when it comes to MMJ law and regulation. Unconstitutional stops. Illegal search and seizure. Geeze...

Monkey
Monkey

PLEASE, everyone who sees this crap should pull out and leave, yes they will follow you and pull you over but they are doing that anyway. Pull them away from the checkpoint so many times that the checkpoint no longer exists. People who say or think, "I don't have drugs so who cares" should understand that submission to these things is counter productive, we do not have to prove our innocence. Cops have better things to do then sniff random cars, pull away from the scene, get pulled over and prove your innocence, they are use to criminals pulling away not innocent people, show them their game will not work. Waste their time like they want to waste yours. PLEASE, all law abiding sober people please refuse these checkpoints, they are a crime against society.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong take, Monkey -- one we're going to make an upcoming Comment of the Day. Congrats.

Mark Montgomery
Mark Montgomery

Make sure you point out that these checkpoints are illegal -- violating a US Supreme Court ruling

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

They do not have the right to question you or search your person, vehicle or belongings.  It may take awhile to get out of one of these, but just stand your ground and refuse to cooperate.  Next, tell them that you don't approve of such an unconstitutional violation of rights.  If you have to, put up a VERBAL fight, make them physically pull you out of your vehicle.  It won't be fun, but will prove that you did not consent to an unconstitutional search. 

These type of stops only work if you cooperate.  I believe only boarder patrol near the boarder or US customs have the right to do this.

Highmesa
Highmesa

I wonder if Cheech & Chong are the stereotype they are looking for ?Better look out if your driving a van man !

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