Heroin seized in I-70 stop

Officer finds four pounds hidden in car

A man faces a host of possible felony charges after an early-morning search of his car Friday on Interstate 70 turned up 3.6 pounds of suspected heroin, according to an arrest affidavit.

Justo Luis Prieto-Pena, 47, was ordered held on $100,000 bond at the Mesa County Jail following his arrest on suspicion of distribution of a controlled substance, and a sentence-enhancing special offender charge.

An officer with the Western Colorado Drug Task Force claimed to have probable cause to stop Prieto-Pena’s Nissan Maxima, which was spotted around 2:20 a.m. headed east on I-70, after the officer allegedly observed an object hanging from the rear-view mirror, which was “reflecting light from headlights, which caused a vision obstruction for the driver,” the affidavit said.

The officer also said he couldn’t find a valid record for the Missouri license plate on the Nissan. He later saw there was no front plate on the vehicle.

Prieto-Pena provided the officer with a Louisiana driver’s license and said he was returning after two days in California. He didn’t have registration for the car, but said it belonged to a friend who lives in Kansas.

The deputy wrote in the affidavit that the car’s dashboard near the radio and instrument panel appeared to have been tampered with. While telling Prieto-Pena he was free to leave, the deputy also asked consent to search, which was granted, the affidavit said.

A police K-9 dog “immediately” signaled drugs were inside the instrument panel of the dashboard, the affidavit said. An officer recovered three packages hidden behind a vent, which tested positive for heroin.

The seizure was substantial as local heroin cases go. In five years between 2005 and 2010, just over 17 pounds of heroin were seized by the Western Colorado Drug Task Force, according to records provided by the team.


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That there’s some pretty creative probable cause.

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