Arizona man arrested in I-70 drug bust pleads not guilty
An Arizona man arrested in a large I-70 drug bust on April 1 of this year pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking charges Wednesday morning, and is now set for a January trial.
Guadalupe Valdez, one of two drivers charged in the April Fool’s Day bust, is currently set for trial beginning Jan. 10.
Valdez, a 21-year-old from Phoenix, was arrested along with Iran Torres, 20, also from Phoenix, when police stopped the two men for speeding, determined that they were traveling together and later located methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl in the vehicles.
Torres accepted an offer earlier this month to plead guilty to possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell or distribute and was sentenced to 11 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.
Torres originally faced 12 felony drug charges, including three counts of a special offender sentencing enhancement. The plea deal helped him avoid what could have been a much steeper sentence given that he faced nine class 1 drug felonies, each carrying a recommended sentence of up to 32 years in prison.
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Valdez, on the other hand, has decided to fight the charges brought against him by the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, which include three counts of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, all class 1 drug felonies.
On the day of the bust, Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies pulled the two vehicles over for speeding and lane violations, determined they had been traveling together from Arizona and decided to conduct a search after the two men’s stories did not line up.
With the help of a K-9, deputies located approximately 21 pounds of methamphetamine, 2.2 pounds of heroin and 0.25 pounds of fentanyl pills between the two cars, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Valdez’s public defender announced his client’s intention to plead not guilty at their last court appearance on Aug. 11, but the attorney said he wanted to see what information came out of the plea deal agreed to by Torres before they proceeded.
The facts of the April 1 incident listed in the plea deal “may implicate my client,” the attorney said then, and they will need to be aware of that as they prepare for a trial.
A motions hearing will be held for Valdez’s case on Nov. 10 at 1:30 p.m. to determine what can and cannot be used as evidence in his January trial.
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