EAGLE — A California man will stand trial for allegedly hauling a quarter million dollars worth of methamphetamine through Eagle County.
Alejandro Carnalla was driving from Los Angeles to Denver when Colorado State Patrol Trooper Shane Gosnell stopped him for weaving. A search uncovered almost two pounds of methamphetamine, 922 grams. The drugs were in a safe hidden under the back seat of the Chevy Tahoe he was driving, Gosnell testified during Carnalla’s preliminary hearing.
Gosnell said he was going to let him go with a verbal warning, which he usually does for things like swerving. As Carnalla turned to walk back to his vehicle, Gosnell asked if troopers could search the vehicle.
Carnalla agreed to the search, and officers found the safe. Carnalla told Gosnell it wasn’t his safe and that he didn’t know what was in it. Gosnell also testified that a woman, who said she was Carnalla’s girlfriend, told him the safe was hers.
When he patted down Carnalla, Gosnell found a GPS tracking device. Carnalla said he used it to track his new girlfriend of two months because he didn’t trust her. That was the woman riding with him.
When asked, Carnalla couldn’t come up with her last name, Gosnell said.
Later, when Gosnell asked about Carnalla, she couldn’t come up with his last name, either.
Carnalla’s kids, ages 9-14, were with his wife in Los Angeles, he told Gosnell.
At about 10 p.m., Gosnell was on patrol near Avon looking for impaired drivers, when he said he spotted Carnalla weaving in the eastbound lane of Interstate 70. Troopers watch traffic for behaviors that might indicate drugs are either in a vehicle or the driver.
Cartels use GPS to track high value loads from one point to another to make sure they get there, Gosnell said.
They also found $1,500 in cash and nine Southwest Airlines gift cards in his shirt pocket, each worth $100.
When Gosnell shined his flashlight in the back seat, he saw some grocery bags in the back. The back seats were folded down and covered with a blanket, some pillows and a small black duffel bag and a silver-colored suitcase, Gosnell said.
Carnalla told Gosnell he was driving from Los Angeles to Denver to visit family. Gosnell said he thought that wasn’t much luggage for a week-long trip.
He spotted two air fresheners in the car, five cell phones on the floor and lots of food and drink wrappers. It’s the sort of paraphernalia often found in vehicles used by people hauling drugs across the country.
Troopers called in drug sniffing dogs from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office to help with the search.
Deputy Tim Comroe’s drug sniffing dog got really excited when he found a safe under the back seat, hidden under the luggage.
Comroe had to leave to attend to other police business, so Deputy Jake Best brought in his drug dog, Jake, and Jake got excited, too.
They got a search warrant and opened the safe. Under some shirts and two sets of binoculars, they found two vacuum sealed packs of crystal methamphetamine, about two pounds total.
Wholesale it sells for about $20,000 per pound. Sold retail, the meth could sell for up to a quarter million dollars per pound, Gosnell said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vail daily.com.