Domestic dispute leads to meth, fentanyl bust on I-70 in Eagle County
Sheriff’s deputies seize suspected 32 pounds of meth, 1.49 pounds of pills
EAGLE — A Commerce City couple’s drive home from California turned into a rolling domestic dispute with at least two shots fired out of a car window on Interstate 70 and then a large drug bust early Monday morning in Eagle County.
Manuel Lujan-Estrada, 42, and Yesenia Zarraga, 48, were both arrested in connection with the incident. And Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies recovered 32.76 pounds of suspected methamphetamine and 1.49 pounds of suspected fentanyl pills from the couple’s car.
According to an affidavit, Zarraga told deputies that she was driving on Interstate 70 but pulled over, ran and hid in some bushes after an argument started and Lujan-Estrada fired at least two shots from a handgun out the passenger window of the black Volkswagen Beetle.
A tow truck driver called police to report seeing the car on the side of the interstate and a crying and terrified woman later identified as Zarraga, suspecting that she was being forced to say everything was OK.
The couple continued driving, and a Colorado State Patrol trooper and sheriff’s deputy later made contact with them after they pulled back over on the side of Interstate 70. They found a visibly upset and crying Zarraga sitting in the driver’s seat and Lujan-Estrada in the passenger seat.
According to the affidavit, Zarraga told deputies they had traveled to California to pick up drugs, and that there were drugs in a bag in the backseat of the car.
A bilingual deputy and K-9 unit responded to the scene and the K-9 alerted to the vehicle. Deputies found the drugs in a plastic bag in the backseat, and a revolver with three empty bullet casings in its cylinder in a bag behind the driver’s seat.
The revolver was found to be owned by Lujan-Estrada, a convicted felon with seven outstanding warrants for his arrest, according to the affidavit.
Zarraga described the trip to California as a “honeymoon trip” with two people in love. But she also told police that Lujan-Estrada had forced her to smoke meth five times on the trip, had threatened more than once to kill her or burn down her house, and hit her in the face at least once. She denied having any involvement with the drugs in the car.
Lujan-Estrada, however, reportedly claimed that the drugs were Zarraga’s, that she gets paid $5,000 to retrieve the drugs from California and drive them back, and that this was his second such trip with her.
Both appeared in court Tuesday through a video feed from the Eagle County jail for advisement on the preliminary charges they are now facing.
Lujan-Estrada faces five class 1 drug felonies punishable by 8 to 32 years in prison, two class 4 drug felonies, a felony charge for unlawful possession of a weapon, and a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.
Zarraga cried during the advisement and briefly needed medical attention. She also faces five class 1 drug felonies, two class 4 drug felonies, and a misdemeanor for driving with a restrained license.
Speaking through an interpreter to the court, Lujan-Estrada said it was Zarraga’s gun, and that he took it from her because she wanted to shoot him in the legs, after which he began shooting it in the air to call police for help.
“This case is the latest in a disturbing uptick of arrests involving narcotics moving eastbound on I-70 through Eagle County,” deputy district attorney Amy Padden told Eagle County Court Judge Rachel Olguin-Fresquez on Tuesday. Padden requested a $200,000 bond for each suspect.
Judge Olguin-Fresquez set bond at $75,000 for Lujan-Estrada and $50,000 for Zarraga. Formal charges in the case are due by May 11, and each is due back in court May 14.
Tom Lotshaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.