Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Police score major pot bust

Three arrested, lawmen seize marijuana, cash and guns

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling shows off a large stash of cash, marijuana and guns seized last week in a large pot bust north of Hailey. Sheriff’s officers and Idaho State Police confiscated 32 pounds of marijuana, $144,000 in cash and seven guns.

Three Blaine County residents have been charged with marijuana trafficking following their arrests last week in a bust that netted 32 pounds of the illegal substance and $144,000 in cash.

"Lots of cash, lots of guns and lots of dope," said Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling. "I think that this is a major drug smuggling operation that we have closed down."

Charged with felony drug crimes Friday in Blaine County 5th District Court were Augusto Martinez-Lazo, 37, Holly Lyn Koyle, 21, and Noe Castillo Jr., 31. Koyle and Castillo are from Hailey and Martinez-Lazo was arrested at his home in the Ohio Gulch area.

Martinez-Lazo and Castillo were charged with trafficking in marijuana and Koyle was charged with aiding and abetting trafficking in the drug.

Femling said the bust was a joint operation conducted Thursday by the sheriff's office and Idaho State Police. Officers from Ketchum and Sun Valley assisted and Hailey police hauled one of the suspects to the Blaine County Jail. Also present was an officer from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who is investigating possible charges in connection with five handguns, a rifle and a shotgun seized in the bust.

Femling said the bust was the result of several months of investigation by his office and state police. He declined to provide information that led to the arrests, saying the case is still under investigation and that other arrests may be made.

Koyle and Castillo were arrested following the search of a home at 1441 Woodside Blvd. in Hailey. Femling said that search netted two pounds of marijuana, more than $14,000 in cash and one handgun.

The rest of the money, drugs and guns was seized at Martinez-Lazo's home at 202 Alturas Dr. in the mid valley, the sheriff said.

Femling described the marijuana as "high-quality bud marijuana" most likely brought to Blaine County from Mexico.

He described the money confiscated as the "largest cash seizure in the county's history."

Preliminary hearings for the three suspects were scheduled for Oct. 14.

Castillo and Koyle were released from Blaine County Jail on Friday after posting $25,000 bond each.

Koyle was also arrested on a warrant from Twin Falls County and was required to post an additional $10,000. According to Twin Falls County court records, Koyle was charged last June with felony delivery of a controlled substance but has not yet been arraigned on the charge.

Martinez-Lazo, who Femling described as "the guy believed to be the main distributor," remained incarcerated in Blaine County Jail on a $200,000 bond. Jail records state that there is an immigration hold on Martinez-Lazo, which indicates he is suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

A press release on the bust describes Martinez-Lazo as a "convicted felon and a prior felony deport."

"We feel pretty good about closing down a major distribution in Blaine County," Femling said.

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