Garfield County undercover operation
by Mark Reaman
A 35-year-old Crested Butte man was arrested last Saturday, September 14 during a sting operation focused on child prostitution conducted in Garfield County involving federal, state and local law enforcement personnel.
Nine men were arrested in the case in which law enforcement officials created posts online where potential predators visit to solicit sex with children.
According to information sent to the Crested Butte News from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, “Undercover operatives posted ads advertising sex with children on several websites, social media sites and applications to lure individuals seeking sexual encounters with children. Individuals participated in written and verbal conversations with undercover law enforcement operatives.”
The Glenwood Springs Post Independent newspaper reported that, “[From] Thursday to Saturday morning, nine individuals allegedly communicated with the undercover agents to negotiate prices for sex with children. When [the individuals] showed up … to allegedly engage in [sex with a child], they were arrested.”
One of those taken into custody was Jan Blewett, who is a full-time firefighter with the Colorado River Fire Protection District in Rifle but lives in Crested Butte and commutes to his shifts given scheduling opportunities. He is also a part-time firefighter with the Crested Butte Fire Protection District.
“We found out about the charges on Saturday afternoon and we are as shocked and saddened by the allegations as anyone,” said CBFPD chief executive officer Sean Caffrey. “We immediately put Jan on unpaid administrative leave. He won’t participate in any activities with us for the time being. We are waiting to get the police report.”
Blewett has worked as a part-timer for the Crested Butte Fire Protection District for about a year. Before that he was a volunteer firefighter with the district for 13 years. “He has had a spotless record in those 14 years,” said Caffrey.
According to the arrest affidavit from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, undercover officers took Blewett into custody at a hotel near Glenwood Springs in the early hours of September 14 when he arrived with the apparent intention to have sex with two girls he believed to be 13 and 14 years old.
The Garfield County sheriff’s press release noted, “All are presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
The release contained the names of the following suspects arrested, who were then taken to Garfield County Jail on the following charges:
—Scott V. Fetzer (60), Glenwood Springs, Soliciting for Child Prostitution
—Luis M Noj-Pich (33), Rifle, Soliciting for Child Prostitution
—Jose G Cardenas (39), Rifle, Solicitation for Child Prostitution
—Brian Alvarez (29), Glenwood Springs, Soliciting for Child Prostitution
—Manuel Nava-Mauro (26), Carbondale, Solicitation for Child Prostitution
—Guillermo Carreon-Salinas (31), Rifle, Solicitation for Child Prostitution
—Mingma O. Sherpa (51), Avon, Soliciting for Child Prostitution
—Jan Blewett (35), Crested Butte, Soliciting for Child Prostitution
—Shekeyah Jackson (26), Aurora, Prostitution (Released on a Summons)
Police from Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Rifle participated in the operation, along with the Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations.
“Solicitation for child prostitution is common and victimizes the most innocent and vulnerable of all, our children,” said Carbondale police chief Gene Schilling. “We are glad we were able to arrest these people before they had a chance to further their criminal actions.”
Blewett is scheduled to next appear in court on September 24. Soliciting for child prostitution is a class-three felony.