On July 3, 2006, the Gunnison County Sheriffâs Office notified the park that there was a man at the Gunnison Valley Hospital with a gunshot to his forearm who claimed that heâd been shot while fishing along the shoreline of Blue Mesa Reservoir. An NPS special agent and the parkâs chief ranger drove to the hospital while rangers conducted interviews of potential witnesses. The wounded man was identified as Jesus Suarez-Aguirre, an undocumented alien who was working construction in the area. Suarez-Aguirre was later taken to Montrose County Hospital for surgery. Through a criminal investigation conducted jointly by Crested Butte officers and park agents and rangers, Suarez-Aguirre was identified as the primary suspect in several residential burglaries and a violent attempted rape in Crested Butte. He had evidently shot himself accidentally with a handgun while in the park. A state search warrant was served at his residence and evidence pertaining to the burglaries and sexual assault was recovered. The handgun was recovered later on. Suarez-Aguirre was subsequently identified as a suspect in several other residential burglaries and was charged with same by the Elbert County Sheriffâs Office. He was convicted in state court of sexual assault and on numerous burglary charges filed by both counties in late 2006. Meanwhile, the investigation into Suarez-Aguirreâs immigration status and criminal possession of a firearm and ammunition continued. With assistance from both ICE and ATF agents and at the direction of the assistant U.S. attorney, NPS agents were able to establish that Suarez-Aguirre was a foreign national who was inside the U.S. illegally and that heâd been in possession of a firearm and ammunition both inside and outside of NPS jurisdiction. He was indicted by a federal grand jury for being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition (18 USC 922) and subsequently found guilty. On January 10th, Suarez-Aguire was sentenced to the following:
15 months of additional federal incarceration beyond the 23 months already served (heâs been in jail since July 5, 2006)
three years supervised release, if not deported by ICE after serving the above sentence
a $100 mandatory victim assessment
mandatory DNA collection
The federal component of the investigation was led by two NPS special agents and prosecution ultimately was handled by the Denver office of the Colorado United States Attorneyâs Office.