Arizona resident arrested in large narcotics bust on I-70 near Eagle
Officers seized nearly 19 pounds of suspected narcotics including cocaine, heroin and fentanyl from a vehicle that was pulled over in Eagle
An Arizona resident was arrested on Wednesday after law enforcement officers found nearly 19 pounds of suspected narcotics in his car during a traffic stop.
Deputies and detectives with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and the Vail Police Department made contact with the vehicle after it was seen weaving on Interstate 70 near the town of Eagle.
Law enforcement was able to make contact with the driver at a gas station in Eagle, at which time the driver gave consent to have the vehicle and its contents searched. During the vehicle search, several packages of suspected narcotics including cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl pills were found inside the vehicle.
The substances found included 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 a press release.
According to the release from the Sheriff’s Office, 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.”
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The vehicle’s driver, John Michael Shawn Hughes, 19, of Phoenix is now facing a number of felony drug charges.
These charges include 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).
Law enforcement has also brought charges of “special offender sentencing enhancement” on Hughes, which is a Colorado sentencing enhancement that makes any drug felony a Class 1 drug felony.
The bust was carried out by the Gore Range Narcotics Interdiction Team, or GRANITE, who were on traffic patrol near Eagle at the time. GRANITE is an Eagle County drug task force that is comprised of partners and detectives with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and the Vail Police Department.
According to Eagle County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Jessie Porter, the growth of this team over the past year has led to an increase in these types of drug busts as “there’s more proactive interdiction efforts taking place” in Eagle County.
Recently, however, with the closure of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon and a lack of through traffic in Eagle County, local officials have seen less drug trafficking activity, Porter said. With its reopening, she said that the activity will “likely come back to pre-closure levels just given that if the canyon is open, traffic is going to be coming through Eagle County versus going up (Colorado Highway) 131.”
Anyone with information on this incident is urged to call the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 328-8500 or the Eagle County Crime Stoppers at 970-328-7007. Tips can also be submitted online at P3Tips.com or through the free ‘P3 Tips’ mobile app.