Florida man returned to Eagle County in carfentanyl OD case
EAGLE — A Florida man is back in the Eagle County jail for his alleged part in the drug overdose deaths of two Blue Lake men.
A grand jury indicted Samuel Brunelus for assault charges in a pair of overdose deaths in March 2017.
District Court Judge Fred Gannett released Brunelus and dismissed manslaughter charges during a November 2017 preliminary hearing, saying there was not enough evidence to bring Brunelus to trial.
Last year, a grand jury indicted Brunelus on assault charges in connection with the deaths. He fought extradition from Florida back to Colorado, and spent about eight months in a Florida jail before he was transferred to Eagle County last week.
Brunelus, 24, faces allegations that he participated in shipping pills laced with carfentanyl from Florida to Eagle County, and that those pills killed two Roaring Fork Valley men.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation confirmed that the capsules contained heroin laced with carfentanyl. A carfentanyl particle the size of a grain of sand or salt could be fatal, Veldheer said.
Carfentanyl is a synthetic opioid powerful enough to tranquilize elephants. It is surfacing in more and more communities and is often disguised as heroin, said Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg.
‘They just dropped’
Around 5 a.m. the morning of March 24, 2017, Michael Martinez, 26, and Camillo Sanchez, 30, were found dead by a fourth man living in a Blue Lake home shared with Sanchez, Martinez and Alexander Raywood.
The fourth man woke up just before 5 a.m., checked the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus schedule, walked to his room and then to the kitchen, where he saw Sanchez on the kitchen floor, his face covering a heating vent, Eagle County Sheriff’s detective George Dow said.
Sanchez was “stiff and cold to the touch,” Dow said.
The man checked around the house and found Martinez, also “cold and stiff to the touch,” Dow said.
Both died quickly and, it seemed, in the same manner, Detective Aaron Veldheer said. There was no sign of a struggle or fight, Veldheer said.
“They just dropped,” he said.
Raywood was found on the couch, still alive but making gurgling sounds, Dow testified.
That fourth man called 911, and Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies were there in moments. They treated Raywood with Narcan, which counters the effects of an opiate overdose long enough to get the victim medical help, Veldheer testified. Raywood was rushed to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.
Veldheer said that during the initial investigation, he found a UPS package on Martinez’ bed, addressed to Sanchez. The return address was from Boca Raton, Florida. The package was shipped overnight on March 22, and delivered March 23, Veldheer said.
On one of Sanchez’ arms was scrawled a tracking number matching the one on the UPS shipping envelope, according to testimony.
A wire transfer for $180 for the purchase was made from Glenwood Springs to a man in Florida, according to testimony. That Florida man held onto the pills 23 hours before shipping them from Florida to the Roaring Fork Valley, according to testimony.
The pills were delivered at 9 p.m., March 23, 2017. Martinez and Sanchez’ bodies were found at 5 a.m. the next morning. When deputies searched the house, they found nine capsules on the living room coffee table, Veldheer said.
A fingerprint on the pill bottle belonged to Sanchez.
Veldheer said that during the investigation they found cellphones with a series of text messages arranging a heroin purchase. Sanchez was texting from a Florida phone number and has an address in Boca Raton.
Douglas said that in the 900 pages of discovery, 49 voicemails indicate that both Sanchez and the Florida man were drug dealers. Detectives asserted that Brunelus was included in those messages.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vail daily.com.