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Police make arrest in Cortez for suspected fentanyl distribution

Hundreds of pills found in home on West Third Street

A Cortez woman has been arrested on suspicion of distribution and possession of fentanyl pills and meth, according to the Cortez Police Department.

After a three-month investigation by the Montezuma-Cortez Narcotic Investigation Team, Shanea Sheree Arellano, 30, was taken into custody Jan. 26 by Cortez Police at her home at 26 W. Third St., said narcotics Detective Tom Quinnett.

Shanea Sheree Arellano (Courtesy Montezuma County Sheriff's Office)

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

A total of $2,246 was found in a bag containing meth, and a .380 caliber semiautomatic handgun was found in a drawer with that contained suspected illegal drugs.

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According to the affidavit, Arellano was charged with suspicion of a Class 1 special offender drug felony; distribution of illegal narcotics, a Class 2 felony; and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, a Class 4 drug felony.

She is in custody in the Montezuma County Detention Center and is being held on a $100,000 bond, according to District Attorney Matt Margeson. Filing of charges is scheduled for Feb. 17.

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

Police surveillance of the home showed suspected 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.

The investigation is ongoing, Quinnett said. Anonymous tips from the public assisted in the case.

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 are showing up on the street laced with fentanyl.

In 2015, the DEA issued a nationwide alert about the dangers of the drug and warned its illegal use was a threat to public safety.