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Montezuma-Cortez narcotics team makes another heroin arrest

Cortez man suspected of heroin distribution

A Cortez man was arrested last week at gunpoint on the city’s Main Street and charged with suspected heroin possession and distribution.

Christopher Allen Gonzales, 24, initially was arrested on a felony parole violation by officers from the Cortez Police Department and Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office while he washed his silver Nissan Altima at the Aqua Carwash at 2:50 p.m. Feb. 17, according to the arrest affidavit.

Officers said they discovered 21 grams of heroin on Gonzales.

Gonzales was charged with suspicion of illegal drug possession and drug paraphernalia, and suspicion of illegal drug distribution because of the amount of heroin, according to police reports and court records.

The arrest operation was conducted by the Montezuma-Cortez Narcotics Investigations Team, which includes Cortez police and sheriff’s deputies.

An affidavit by Deputy Victor Galarza states the narcotics team was notified by the Department of Corrections that Gonzales had a warrant for alleged parole violation.

When officers spotted him at the car wash, unmarked police and sheriff vehicles were called to the scene, and the area was secured. Because of Gonzales’ criminal history, Galarza approached him with a drawn gun, and he was arrested and taken into custody without incident, the arrest report says.

The estimated street value of the heroin was estimated between $6,000 and $6,500. During a vehicle search, officers located suspected drug paraphernalia, the report says.

Gonzales was being held on a $20,000 bond at the Montezuma County Detention Center, and is due in court for a filing of charges hearing March 3.

Police Det. Tom Quinnett said the narcotic investigations team has seen a local increase in the use and distribution of hard drugs.

On Dec. 30, a Cortez man was arrested for allegedly selling 3.2 grams of the potent China White heroin to an undercover agent at a residence south of Montezuma-Cortez High School. The case is pending in the 22nd Judicial District Court.

On Dec. 2, a New Mexico man was arrested in Montezuma County for selling the potent opioid fentanyl to an undercover officer. During the investigation, officers confiscated 83 grams of fentanyl pills. The man pleaded guilty to drug distribution and awaits sentencing in the 22nd Judicial District Court.

The case had a counterfeit aspect to it that was especially dangerous, said Cortez Police Chief Vern Knuckles.

It involved counterfeit “Oxy 30” oxycodone pills imported into the Cortez area that contained fentanyl instead.

“Fentanyl is an especially dangerous opioid because it is so potent and addictive. It can cause deadly overdose,” Knuckles said. “They were intentionally made to look like an industry-produced pharmaceutical oxycodone pill.”

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.

On Oct. 22, three people were arrested by the narcotic investigation team for drug-related offenses during a raid on the American Holiday Mesa Verde Inn in Cortez.Drugs confiscated were 95 grams of meth, 2.5 grams of psilocybin mushrooms and 2 grams of heroin. A firearm was also confiscated.

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