Police seize package of pills containing fentanyl from US Post Office that was en route to Copper Mountain

Luke Vidic
Summit Daily News
A Summit County Sheriff's Office vehicle is parked in Dillon on Wednesday, May 13.
Liz Copan/Summit Daily News archive

Police seized 115 pills containing fentanyl Thursday while it was en route to Copper Mountain, Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said, after a tip came in about a suspicious package.

On July 13, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office’s Criminal Investigations Section received information from the U.S. Postal Inspector and Drug Enforcement Administration of a package with pills that were presumed to contain fentanyl being shipped to Edge Employee Housing at Copper Mountain, the Sheriff’s Office stated in a press release.

After receiving the tip, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office conducted an undercover operation. The package was seized, and members of the Sheriff’s Office replaced it with a replica package, Fitzsimons said. Deputies then delivered the replica while undercover and took Anthony Wahl, 41, of Copper, into custody without incident, the Sheriff’s Office stated.

A search warrant for the package was obtained to find out what was inside.

“That’s a lot of pills,” FitzSimons said. He estimated that the amount of drugs seized was worth about $3,500.

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Wahl faces two felony charges — one for unlawful possession of a controlled substance, a Level 4 felony, and one for unlawful distribution manufacturing, dispensing, or sale of a controlled substance, a Level 1 felony, the Sheriff’s Office stated.

His case will be handled in Summit County, FizSimons said.

The sheriff’s office said an investigation is still ongoing.

FitzSimons warned that many illicit drugs on the street contain fentanyl. The pills seized Thursday were “blues,” or counterfeit oxycodone, he said. An increasingly common practice according to FitzSimons, fentanyl-laced pills are pressed to look like other illicit, party drugs.

“Compared to the real one, you wouldn’t know the difference,” he said.

“It’s like Russian roulette,” FitzSimons added while also saying there’s no way of knowing how safe a pill is. He said two pills from the same producer could create vastly different responses — a high or a death.

In 2021, FitzSimons said state and federal agencies conducted several seizures just outside the county’s borders. They seized 40.44 pounds of fentanyl in that time, and while he didn’t have numbers on hand, FitzSimons said 2022 numbers have been worse.

In addition to fentanyl, FitzSimons said state and federal agencies seized 54 Oxycodone pills, 320 pounds of methamphetamine, 18 pounds of heroin, 11 pounds of cocaine, $310,000 in illicit U.S. currency, 341 pounds of marijuana, 73 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, 23 doses of dextroamphetamine and six stolen firearms all in 2021.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office’s Strategies to Avoid Relapse and Recidivism team, or STARR team, offers free Narcan, a nasal spray that can save someone’s life by reversing the effects of an opioid overdose. People can stop by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and ask for a member of the STARR Team to obtain free Narcan, the Sheriff’s Office stated.

Earlier this month, law officials made what they called one of the largest drug seizures in Colorado history, which, among other illicit drugs, contained 200,000 pills laced with fentanyl. And on June 8, Colorado State Patrol seized 114 pounds of fentanyl.

In April, the state legislature passed the ​​Fentanyl Accountability And Prevention Act, House Bill 1326. The law plans to address synthetic opiates in a variety of ways, from providing opiate detection tests and antagonists like Narcan, to funding substance use and harm reduction.

FitzSimons argued, before the bill passed, that the new law did not go far enough

“Unfortunately, HB1326, as currently amended, falls short of protecting our communities from the significant harm that has been increasingly inflicted upon them in recent years by failing to address the possession of fentanyl. To be effective, Colorado must reestablish firm criminal consequences for dealing and possessing deadly amounts of fentanyl,” he wrote.

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