Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — A La Jara couple arrested during a three-county sweep of a suspected prescription drug ring may have a chance to get out of jail, pending their next scheduled appearance in court.
12th Judicial District Judge Pattie Swift reduced the bond amounts for Jeffrey and Hollye Mitchell on Monday. At the same time, the judge removed provisions that prevented the two parents from having any contact with their children, provided that they follow various court-ordered stipulations.
If the Mitchells post their bonds, they must remain under pre-trial supervision, subject to random drug testing and other conditions.
Authorities arrested the Mitchells and 13 other people on Oct. 11, after a Chaffee County Drug Task Force investigation expanded beyond Salida to encompass five other communities from Alamosa to Cañon City.
At the time, investigators who spearheaded the multi-agency effort called the bust a significant disruption of southern Colorado’s drug trade.
Unspecified quantities of methamphetamine and Ecstasy were allegedly involved in the transactions. But most of the controlled substances at issue were reportedly prescription drugs, according to a joint law enforcement press release announcing the arrests.
Investigators claim that most of the 15 suspects obtained oxycodone, OxyContin, vicodin and other drugs by convincing licensed physicians that they needed prescriptions for the powerful painkillers.
Deputy District Attorney Mark Loy alleged Monday that the Mitchells dealt drugs while their children were present, leading to related charges of child abuse.
Hollye Mitchell, 34, was subsequently arrested for distribution of a Schedule 2 controlled substance -- a Class 3 felony. Her 30-year-old husband was arrested on the same charge, which was listed as a Class 6 felony.
In the wake of Monday’s court proceedings, Hollye Mitchell’s personal recognizance bond stands at $50,000. Based on an evaluation of Jeffrey Mitchell, Judge Swift lowered his bond from $20,000 to a cash or surety bond of $10,000.
Both defendants are scheduled to be back in district court on Jan. 7, 2013.
In addition to the Mitchells, six other Valley residents were apprehended during the October sweep, including Jennifer Rivera Lovato, Tessa Eufemia “Famie” Silva, Pamela Lynne Richardson, Stella Ann Schimpf, Billy Darrel Webster and Savannah McDermott. Authorities said at the time that they expected to make more arrests.
Over the course of a six-month investigation, the Chaffee County Drug Task Force received help from police departments in Alamosa and Salida. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad and other entities were also on hand to assist.