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Drug busts in Gunnison lead to multiple felony charges

“I still feel like we are just scratching the surface.”

by Toni Todd

The Gunnison County Sheriff’s Department has made several large narcotics arrests in recent months in or near the city of Gunnison. These have included charges for the illegal manufacture, possession and distribution of narcotics. Gunnison County sheriff Rick Besecker said a series of events recently led to felony arrests at three houses.

Two suspects were arrested and charged on April 26. It was 6 a.m. when Lorraine Kinsey, age 56, was apprehended at a home in the 1300 block of Ohio Ave. Mitchel Kinsey, also 56, was arrested at a house in the 800 block of Rio Grande Ave. “We took down those houses simultaneously,” Besecker said, and added that he thought the two were either married or had once been married. Felony charges filed against each of the Kinseys included distribution, manufacturing and dispensing or sale of unlawful narcotics, violation of a protection order and violation of bond conditions. Bail was set at $50,000 each.

A protection order is issued to those arrested and charged, but not convicted. It specifies terms those charged with crimes cannot violate in the event they make bail and are released on bond.

“We have known it’s been going on for quite some time,” said Besecker. “We now have a crew that’s interested in pursuing this.”

Besecker did not wish to elaborate on those events, or to identify specific drugs, pending his department’s continuing investigation of additional leads. He did say, however, that the drugs apprehended and being sold were Schedule I and II drugs, as classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The DEA defines Schedule I drugs as chemicals with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin; lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); marijuana (cannabis); 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy); methaqualone (Quaalude); and peyote.

Schedule II drugs are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs include: hydrocodone (Vicodin); cocaine; methamphetamine; methadone; hydromorphone (Dilaudid); meperidine (Demerol); oxycodone (OxyContin); fentanyl; Dexedrine; Adderall; and Ritalin.

Besecker said the investigation took time, but eventually yielded enough evidence for his team to secure the search warrants that led to these arrests.

“We don’t have the staff to do undercover work,” he said. “We’re working it from the surface, which makes it more challenging.”

The Kinseys were arrested again on October 13, when sheriff’s deputies executed another warrant at the same residence in the 1300 block of Ohio Ave. Besecker said this time, both Mitchel and Lorraine Kinsey were present and arrested at the same location. Felony charges again included violation of a protection order, and special offenses related to narcotics— possession of Schedule II narcotics and violation of a bail bond. Besecker said this time, bail was initially set at $60,000 each, but reconsidered and raised to $80,000.

On October 17, another search warrant was executed at a home on Crocus Road just north of Gunnison. The residence was searched, after which 40-year-old Blane Mazzuca was arrested for special offenses related to narcotics, including unlawful possession and distribution of a Schedule I drug. Mazzuca’s bond was set at $60,000.

Mitchel and Lorraine Kinsey are scheduled to appear in court for plea hearings on Nov. 29; Mazzuca’s first court appearance is slated for Nov. 21.

Major offenses charged in all three cases are class 4 felonies. Upon, conviction, penalties could range from 1–12 years in prison, and fines of $2,000 – $50,000.

Besecker said the home identified in the 1300 block of Ohio Ave. is owned by one of the Kinseys. The other two homes at which arrests were made are rentals. The Sheriff noted, property where repeated criminal offenses occur could be classified as a public nuisance. “There is a formality to that,” he said, but explained that after formal proceedings are conducted, the property could be confiscated by the county.

“I’d like to impress on folks that there are future episodes that we’re pursuing,” Besecker said. “We’re pursing leads. Some run dry and some lead to something. I still feel like we’re just scratching the surface, and if we, as a society, develop a tolerance of this type of activity, we will always be scratching the surface. But we will continue to scratch that surface.”

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