BLANCA — A three-day jury trial for former Costilla County Undersheriff Andrew Espinoza, 40, is set to begin at 8 a.m. Monday, Dec. 4.
A Blanca resident who also operated a private business as a guide and outfitter, Espinoza faces felony charges for illegal sale of wildlife and tampering with physical evidence and misdemeanor charges for illegal possession of wildlife, official misconduct, illegal use of electronic equipment in furtherance of a crime and complicity in hunting without a proper and valid license.
Espinoza was allegedly telling the hunters to use deer tags from other game management units (GMUs). All deer licenses in Colorado are limited to the specific GMU for which they are purchased. In this case, they were actually hunting in GMU 83, but the tags were not valid for that unit.
While he didn’t know a couple of his clients were CPW agents working under cover, Espinoza told one of the ‘clients” that the game warden knew what vehicles Espinoza drove and would leave them alone.
He repeatedly told the hunters that he was employed as the county undersheriff.
Espinoza’s arrest warrant says agents also posed as out-of-state hunters asking advice on how to secure hunting permits for a trip guided by Espinoza, who allegedly told the men they could buy permits for hunting units near Denver but he would guide them on a deer hunt in northern Costilla County.
The two agents reportedly paid $3,000 each for the guided hunt.