The Phoenix Police Department arrested Cortez resident Chad P. Blackmore on Thursday with 1,000 fentanyl pills in his possession, after the Montezuma-Cortez Narcotics Investigation Team previously issued warrants for his arrest on 21 charges, said Detective Victor Galarza with the narcotics team.
Blackmore, 50, apparently intended to bring the 1,000 pills to Montezuma County, and will be extradited to Cortez, Galarza told The Journal.
The narcotics team believes Blackmore led a drug trafficking operation out of Cortez that was supplied by Mexican cartels, Galarza said.
As of Friday, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was leading the investigation, Galarza said.
Blackmore is suspected to have transported thousands of fentanyl pills into the county since January, Galarza said.
Blackmore’s house is about 700 feet from Kemper Elementary School. For months, the narcotics investigation team has suspected it was a local distribution hub, Galarza said.
Galarza, in a collaborative effort with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit and Montezuma County Detective Division, searched Blackmore’s house on Oct. 28 after obtaining a search warrant. The team found 749 fentanyl pills with an estimated value of $20,000, Galarza said.
The team also found 13 explosive devices, 1½ ounces of methamphetamine and a stolen handgun, Galarza said.
Blackmore was on probation and bond for a related distribution case handled by the Mancos Marshal’s Office. Investigators found more than 140 fentanyl pills, Galarza said.
“This is a big victory for the community,” Galarza said.
Cortez has become a regional distribution hub for narcotics, Galarza said, citing recent investigations.
The confiscated pills were counterfeit oxycodone 30 fentanyl pills known as “Blues” and “Blue Smurfs,” Galarza said. Typically light blue in color, the pills have been found in seven different colors in Montezuma County, he said.
“Our purpose is to go to the distributors,” Galarza said. “The people that are suffering from the nightmare of addiction, we’re not there for that. We are there to go out to the people that are taking advantage of the people that are suffering from addiction.”
He said the Montezuma-Cortez Narcotics Investigation Team, the Cortez Police Department, the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office, and backing from Sheriff Steve Nowlin and Police Chief Vernon Knuckles have made the drug bust efforts possible. He also credited tips from the public.
“We’re out there, and we stay vigilant against these types of crimes,” Galarza said.
Blackmore is scheduled for a plea hearing and a hearing about revoking his probation at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Montezuma County Combined Courts.
A shooting occurred Sept. 30 at Blackmore’s residence when bail bondsman Clint Simmons shot a man who was wanted on a warrant from La Plata County, according to a Cortez Police Department incident report. The alleged fugitive, Freedom Anderson, was taken to a hospital in Denver with an arm wound.