POCATELLO — Two Pocatello residents wanted in connection to a narcotics investigation from April and a burglary incident in June have both been arrested after surrendering to Bannock County Jail deputies earlier this week, according to police and court records.
Dusten Lara, 27, and Ashley Seward, 28, both of Pocatello, have each been charged with three felony counts of possession of a controlled substance and one felony count of burglary for two separate alleged incidents in Pocatello in April and June, respectively.
The felony drug possession charges stem from an incident on April 26 in which Pocatello police were surveilling the West Burnside Avenue apartment of Erick Estrada, 28, of Pocatello, who is currently incarcerated at the Bannock County Jail in Pocatello on charges of trafficking heroin, and two counts of possession of a controlled substance, all felonies.
While surveilling the home, police observed the driver of a 1999 Toyota Camry, later identified as Seward, complete what appeared to be a narcotics transaction with Estrada in the parking lot in front of his home, police said.
Pocatello police officers, in coordination with Idaho State Police troopers, initiated a traffic stop of Seward’s vehicle in the 100 block of Meadowbrook Lane, according to police. A police K-9 indicated there were illegal narcotics in the vehicle, which resulted in police searching the car, police said.
Inside the car, police said they located a suspected “dirty 30” counterfeit oxycodone pill believed to be laced with fentanyl in the bottom of a half-full cup of coffee that had not yet dissolved. Police said they also discovered numerous items of drug paraphernalia and a small amount of a white crystalline substance believed to be methamphetamine in a cigarette disposal container.
Lara, who was riding as a passenger in the Camry, initially said the drugs found in the car were not his, but then claimed anything illegal that was found in the car belonged to him, police said. It is believed Lara claimed the drugs to protect Seward, police noted.
It was raining during the traffic stop, which prevented police from testing the drugs out in the field, so officers explained to Seward and Lara that charges would be forthcoming after the suspected drugs were tested, police said.
After the Idaho State Police received and tested the drugs, which came back positive for fentanyl, heroin and meth, Pocatello police issued arrest warrants for Seward and Lara on Oct. 20, according to police reports.
Additionally, Seward and Lara were allegedly involved in a theft and burglary incident in June that resulted in the arrest of Emilio Juan Chavez, 27, of Pocatello, last month. Chavez faces one felony count of burglary.
The initial incident involving Chavez, Seward and Lara began to unfold on June 21 when Pocatello police received a report from a resident that some of his tools for work had been stolen, according to police reports the Idaho State Journal obtained last month.
The man who contacted police said he dropped off some work tools on his back porch of his Pocatello home on June 14 before leaving town for work, police said. When the man got back home on June 20, his tools were missing, according to police.
The man asked one of his neighbors if they knew anything about his missing tools and the neighbor told him that she had some friends over and she wouldn’t be surprised if they took the tools, police said.
The neighbor told the man that when she confronted her friends about stealing the tools, which included Chavez, Seward and Lara, Chavez threw a receipt from a pawn shop down onto the table, police said.
The man went to the pawn shop and located his stolen tools, a Craftsman compound miter saw valued at $200, a SKIL circular saw valued at $50 and a Makita quick-drive auto screwdriver valued at $250, police said.
Pocatello police obtained video footage from the pawn shop that showed Chavez, Seward and Lara pawning the stolen items and receiving $145 total in cash from the business, according to police.
Pocatello police were unable to locate any of the three suspects for questioning, so the information was forwarded to the Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office for review and an arrest warrant was issued for all three, court records show.
Chavez was arrested last month while Seward and Lara voluntarily surrendered to Bannock County Sheriff’s Office deputies at the jail earlier this week.
Lara and Seward both appeared in front of 6th District Judge David Hooste for separate arraignment hearings on Wednesday, during which Lara was released from jail and sent to pre-trial court services and Seward was released on her own recognizance, court records show.
Lara is due back in court on Jan.19 and Seward is due back in court on Jan. 20 for preliminary hearings in which prosecutors will attempt to prove there is enough evidence against them to elevate their cases from the magistrate to district court level for trial.
If convicted of all four felony charges against them, both Lara and Seward face no less than one year and up to 31 years in prison and up to $95,000 in fines.