A firefighter with Colorado River Fire Rescue in western Garfield County is among nine people arrested or cited late last week in connection with an internet child exploitation sting operation in the county.
Jan Blewett, 35, whose place of residence is given as Crested Butte in a news release from local law enforcement authorities on the sting, is a full-time firefighter with Colorado River Fire Rescue, which serves the Rifle to New Castle area.
According to the news release, undercover authorities posted ads advertising sex with children on several websites, social media sites and apps, and suspects participated in written and verbal conversations with the undercover operatives.
Randy Callahan, chief of the fire department, said by email that Blewett "is on paid administrative leave as we follow department policy and work through due process."
The department said in a prepared statement, "The accusations involved do not represent CRFR's Values or Mission or our members' unwavering commitment to providing high quality emergency services to the communities we serve. This is both an external criminal investigation and internal personnel matter. CRFR is cooperating with law enforcement and respecting the confidentiality of an internal personnel matter."
Blewett was arrested on suspicion of soliciting for child prostitution and taken to the Garfield County Jail.
Also arrested on suspicion of soliciting for child prostitution and taken to the jail were Scott V. Fetzer, 60, of Glenwood Springs; Luis M. Noj-Pich, 33, of Rifle; Jose G. Cardenas, 39, of Rifle; Brian Alvarez, 29, of Glenwood Springs; Manuel Nava-Mauro, 26, of Carbondale; Guillermo Carreon -Salinas, 31, of Rifle; and Mingma O. Sherpa, 51, of Avon. Shekeyah Jackson, 26, of Aurora, was released on a summons for prostitution.
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," Carbondale police Chief Gene Schilling said in the release from authorities. "We are glad we were able to arrest these people before they had the chance to further their criminal actions."