Arizona man arrested in Eagle County narcotics bust pleads guilty |

Arizona man arrested in Eagle County narcotics bust pleads guilty

John Michael Shawn Hughes, a 19-year-old from Phoenix, accepts plea deal

John Michael Shawn Hughes
Eagle County Sheriff’s Office

An Arizona resident arrested in a large drug bust on Interstate 70 in Eagle over the summer pleaded guilty to one felony drug charge in a court hearing Monday afternoon.

John Michael Shawn Hughes, 19, of Phoenix, Arizona, accepted a deal from the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, pleading guilty to one count of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute it.

Hughes was facing nine Class 1 drug felonies, the most severe level of drug charges in the state of Colorado. The plea agreement brought this down to just one Class 1 drug felony and dismissed all other remaining charges.

The charges stem from an Aug. 18 arrest when Hughes was found with nearly 19 pounds of narcotics after giving law enforcement officers consent to search his vehicle.

Law enforcement seized nearly 19 pounds of suspected narcotics including cocaine, heroin and fentanyl from the vehicle of John Michael Shawn Hughes during his arrest in Eagle on Aug. 18, 2021.
Eagle County Sheriff’s Office/Courtesy photo

Deputies and detectives with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and the Vail Police Department pulled Hughes over after his vehicle was seen weaving on I-70 in Eagle, according to an August press release from the Sheriff’s Office.

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They found an estimated 18.7 pounds of narcotics including 4.8 pounds of suspected cocaine, 5.2 pounds of suspected heroin and 8.7 pounds of suspected fentanyl pills.

According to the release, fentanyl is a “powerful synthetic opioid” that is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine and “highly addictive and often added to heroin unbeknownst to the end user to increase return sales.”

Upon his arrest, Hughes was hit with 10 charges including distribution of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl (Class 1 felony), possession of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl (Class 4 felony), as well as possession of marijuana by a minor (unclassified petty offense).

After further investigation by detectives with the Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office, many of these charges were upgraded and Hughes ended up facing nine Class 1 drug felonies.

Hughes’ arraignment was set for Monday morning when he initially entered a plea of not guilty and his case was set out for a jury trial. However, there was some confusion over the sentence that Hughes would face if convicted, so he and his attorney took some more time to talk things over and the matter was reset for Monday afternoon.

When Hughes and his attorney came back before a 5th Judicial District judge around 3:30 p.m., he had changed his mind. He pleaded guilty and accepted the offer.

A pre-sentence investigation was ordered to assist the judge in handing down Hughes’ sentence and his sentencing was scheduled for the morning of April 4.

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