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Cortez woman sentenced to 10 years in prison for fentanyl distribution

Search of home revealed 677 pills and semi-automatic handgun

A woman who pleaded guilty to possession and distribution of fentanyl in Cortez was sentenced to prison Tuesday.

Shanea Sheree Arellano received a 10-year sentence to the Department of Corrections from Montezuma County District Judge Todd Plewe.

As part of a plea bargain, she pleaded guilty to possession with intent to manufacture a controlled substance, said 22nd Judicial District Attorney Matt Margeson. The offense is a Class 2 drug felony.

Shanea Sheree Arellano (Montezuma County Sheriff's Office)

Because of aggravating circumstances, the maximum sentence of eight years in prison was increased to 10 years, Margeson said.

As part of the plea deal, other charges against Arellano were dismissed. They included possession with intent to distribute meth, possession of a counterfeit substance and a special offender violation.

Arellano was arrested Jan. 26 at her home on West Third Street in Cortez after a three-month investigation by the Montezuma-Cortez Narcotic Investigation Team.

Aug 8, 2022
Police make arrest in Cortez for suspected fentanyl distribution

During the execution of a search warrant Jan. 6, police found 677 suspected fentanyl pills, 4.5 grams of suspected meth, scales and baggies in Arellano’s room, according to the arrest affidavit.

A total of $2,246 was found in a bag containing meth, and a .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun was found in a drawer that contained the drugs.

The residence, at Third and Chestnut streets, was a suspected location for illegal drug distribution, and has the nickname of the “Corner Pink House,” according to the affidavit written by narcotics Detective Tom Quinnett. It is near a school bus stop.

Police surveillance of the home showed signs of drug sales, according to the affidavit.

On Dec. 28, Cortez Police and the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office investigated that several guns had been stolen from Blue Door Traders in Cortez. Several suspects were identified.

The investigation indicated the stolen guns were being traded to illegal drug distributors in Cortez and Durango, Quinnett said. Arellano’s home was a suspected location, he said, which led to the search warrant and subsequent arrest.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, pharmaceutical fentanyl is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. It was developed for pain management of cancer patients. Counterfeit OxyContin pills laced with fentanyl have showed up in Cortez, police said.

Arellano has been held on a $100,000 bond in the Montezuma County Detention Center since her arrest.

The sentence order notes that she has served 168 days. She also was ordered to pay $3,478 in court fees and fines.