Meth trafficking suspect is a no-show for Vail Valley trial
Deputies say Enrique Echevarria-Castro tried to conceal backpack full of drugs, gift cards
EAGLE — Enrique Echevarria-Castro was supposed to start a three-day trial on felony drug trafficking charges Monday morning, but he wasn’t in court.
A couple of hundred Eagle County residents did show up, however, after being called for jury duty.
Echevarria-Castro was free on $50,000 bond. That bond money will be forfeited, District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman ruled Monday morning.
Echevarria-Castro’s Denver-based defense attorney, Frank Moya, told the court Monday morning that he received a text message at 10:38 p.m. Sunday saying his client would not be able to make it for Monday’s trial.
“I don’t know,” Moya said when asked why Echevarria-Castro did not show up Monday. “He said he could not. He didn’t say why.”
“I even wore my best tie!” Moya quipped, before starting his drive back to Denver.
Dunkelman issued an arrest warrant for Echevarria-Castro.
As for what’s next, Moya said, “We wait until he gets picked up and we try it again.”
What prosecutors say happened
Echevarria-Castro did show up for a January hearing, driving a gold late-model BMW 700 series with Florida license plates. Echevarria-Castro was also in the Eagle County Justice Center when accomplice Jorge Alcolea-Argote was sentenced to four years in state prison.
Prosecutors said Monday that Echevarria-Castro appeared to be more than a methamphetamine mule, based on being able to post $50,000 bond and the vehicle he was driving.
Echevarria-Castro was riding in the backseat of a silver Nissan Altima when Eagle County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Waltz, who testified during Echevarria-Castro’s preliminary hearing, said he spotted the vehicle parked in the right turn lane of U.S. Highway 6 in Edwards around 1 a.m. on Sept. 29, 2018.
Waltz said he rolled on down the highway about a mile, turned around and came back to see if there was anyone inside the car and whether they were having car trouble. The three men in the car told Waltz they were looking for the Edwards rest area.
The inside of the car was in “disarray,” with food bags and luggage strewn about, Waltz testified.
Alcolea-Argote was driving and a third man was in the passenger seat. The three men told Waltz they were on their way from Salt Lake City, Utah, and had picked up Echevarria-Castro to take him to Kentucky where he had work, and where his wife and children live, Waltz was told.
Salt Lake City, Utah, is a central point for heroin and methamphetamine trafficking, Waltz testified.
Waltz was joined at the scene by Dep. Josiah Maner, who said Echevarria-Castro was sitting in the middle of the backseat with his leg draped over the backpack, as though he was trying to hide it.
In the backpack, Maner found five wrapped bundles of methamphetamine, which he testified is consistent with drug trafficking. In that same backpack, the deputies also found several gift cards from various retailers — a common method of paying drug traffickers, because it keeps them from carrying large amounts of cash.
“It’s typical for narcotics traffickers to put money on gift cards or debit cards so they’re not carrying large amounts of currency,” Maner testified.
The five bundles weighed a total of 5 pounds, 7 ounces, or 2,268 grams, detectives said. It’s worth about $15,000, detectives said.
That makes it a drug felony. If caught and convicted, Echevarria-Castro faces between eight and 32 years in prison.