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Bayfield raid tied to multiple crimes

By Stephanie Cook Herald staff writer

Investigators recovered a sawed-off shotgun, as well as a stolen vehicle and a stolen Harley-Davidson motorcycle from Farmington while conducting a multi-agency search Saturday morning at a property on County Road 523, east of Bayfield, La Plata County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Dan Bender said Saturday.

The vehicle, stolen in 2009, belonged to Joey Benavidez, an Ignacio man who was shot and killed April 4, Bender said.

The search, which involved the Durango Police Department, La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, Southern Ute Police Department, FBI and La Plata County Sheriff’s Department SWAT team, stemmed from an arrest made by the Durango Police Department on Thursday, Bender said.

The police arrested 21-year-old Ashley Moore of La Plata County at the Sky Ute Casino Resort after she reportedly passed a fake $100 bill at the Sonic Drive In in Durango, said Sgt. Bobbie Taylor of the Durango Police Department on Sunday.

Along with Moore, police arrested Farmington resident Derin Scott at the casino, Taylor said.

Both Moore and Scott are being held at the La Plata County jail after being arrested on suspicion of criminal possession of a financial device, theft and forgery.

Moore’s bond is set at $5,000 – reduced from $10,000 – and Scott’s bond is set at $10,000, officials at the jail said.

Information about court dates for both Moore and Scott was unavailable Sunday.

Throughout the course of their investigation, the Durango Police Department connected Moore with items stolen from the Kelley family, the family that survived a home explosion Feb. 21 north of Lemon Reservoir.

The stolen items included a 27-foot cargo trailer holding checks and snowmobiles among other property, Bender said.

That information spurred the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, which is leading the investigation on the Kelley family theft, and the Durango Police Department’s effort to obtain a search warrant for the property on County Road 523.

Investigators believe people may have been staying at the abandoned property or using it to stash stolen goods, Bender said.

Because those suspected of using the property have a history with methamphetamine and weapons, the La Plata County Sheriff’s Department’s SWAT team accompanied investigators on the search, Bender said.

The owner of the property is currently in prison and is not a suspect in the investigation, Bender said.

Officials received a search warrant for the property, which is on Southern Ute tribal land, Saturday morning from a tribal judge.

Because the property is on tribal land, the Southern Ute Police Department accompanied investigators on the search.

The FBI also participated in the search because the property is on tribal land and because the search was linked to an individual charged with federal crimes, Bender said.

When investigators arrived at the property Saturday, the area was abandoned, Bender said. It is possible that people using the property became aware of the investigation and fled, he said.

A home on the property did not have power, he said.

Items connected to the Kelley family were not recovered during the search, but other stolen items described above were recovered, Bender said.

The investigation is ongoing.

scook@durangoherald.com

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