Fentanyl Bust: Two Arrested Near Gypsum with Nearly Three Pounds of Pills

A drug task force in Eagle County discovered 2.7 pounds of fentanyl pills inside a shoebox in a vehicle during a traffic stop on I-70 near Gypsum last week.

What happened?

On January 4, 2023, officers from the Gore Range Narcotic Interdiction Team (G.R.A.N.I.T.E.) contacted a vehicle for traffic violations as it was headed eastbound on I-70 near Gypsum. They searched the vehicle and the driver admitted to transporting a shoe box full of what she believed to be methamphetamine pills.

During the search, officers discovered 2.7 pounds of M30 fentanyl pills, which are synthetic opioids that are 30 times more potent than morphine. The pills were wrapped in plastic and labeled with various street names such as “China White”, “China Blue”, and “China Brown”.

Both the driver and passenger were arrested and face charges including distribution of a Schedule 1 controlled substance, possession of a Schedule 1 controlled substance, and special offender importation of fentanyl. The driver, Emely Hernandez, 20, of Phoenix remains in custody on a $100,000 bond and the passenger, Jorge Contua-Herrera, 21, of San Diego is also being held on $100,000 bond.

Why is this significant?

This is one of the largest seizures of fentanyl pills in Colorado history. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used to treat severe pain but can also be abused or mixed with other drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Fentanyl can cause respiratory depression, overdose, and death when taken in high doses or without medical supervision.

Fentanyl Bust

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), there were an estimated 4,800 overdose deaths involving fentanyl in Colorado from January to September 2020. Fentanyl was involved in more than half (51%) of those deaths. In comparison, there were only 1,200 overdose deaths involving fentanyl in Colorado from January to September 2019.

The G.R.A.N.I.T.E. team is composed of local law enforcement partners from Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and Vail Police Department. They conduct undercover operations to intercept drug trafficking organizations and seize large quantities of illegal drugs.

How can you help?

If you think you may have any information about the suspect(s) or this crime, please call the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 328-8500 or if you would like to remain anonymous you can submit your tip online to the Eagle County Crime Stoppers at www.p3tips.com or send a mobile tip using the free ‘P3 Tips’ mobile app. If your tip leads to the arrest and indictment of any suspect involved, you could earn a CASH reward from the Eagle County Crime Stoppers.

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