A BLM ranger assigned to the Tres Rios Field Office responded Nov. 22 to a Colorado State Patrol call for assistance in the pursuit of two suspected car thieves. According to the Durango Police Department, Brandon Herrera, 35, and Jennifer Melendrez, 30, were wanted for several weeks after authorities suspected the couple of breaking into multiple vehicles, and then stealing and using credit cards.
After Herrera and Melendrez were reportedly seen in Durango, police circulated photos of the couple and their vehicle, a silver Kia Soul, on social media. The Durango Police Department had circulated photos of the suspects and their stolen vehicle online, which generated a number of citizen reports.
On Thursday, someone reported to authorities the couple were again in Durango and broke into more vehicles.
The Cortez Police Department, the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado State Patrol located the vehicle and began a chase. Spike strips were used to stop the vehicle, and the couple were taken into custody without incident.
BLM joined the pursuit along Colorado Highway 145 before the trooper called off the chase. A short time later, officers with the Cortez Police Department apprehended the couple, using spike strips to flatten the car’s tires.
“It’s not limited to tracking down bad guys,” said William Perry Pendley, BLM deputy director for Policy and Programs. “Our rangers help with search-and-rescue operations and conduct welfare checks as well as confronting criminals endangering the safety of those visiting federal lands as well as those engaged in drug and human smuggling, illegal dumping, thieving and destruction of cultural artifacts, drug cultivation, and vandalism.”
The BLM currently has 99 active law enforcement contracts throughout California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Utah. The contracts fund patrol, investigation, or dispatch services provided by sheriff’s offices.