A Cortez man facing multiple criminal charges including distribution of fentanyl has agreed to a plea deal and a lengthy prison sentence.
Chad P. Blackmore, 51, has pleaded guilty to one felony count of possession of fentanyl with the intent to distribute, said District Attorney Matt Margeson.
As part of the plea deal, Blackmore was sentenced to 14 years in the Department of Corrections, plus two years’ parole. He received 161 days of credit for time served.
The plea deal and sentence were approved by Judge Todd Plewe of the 22nd Judicial District.
All other pending cases were dismissed. They included charges of drug possession, habitual criminal activity, DUI and auto theft, according to court records.
Blackmore also was convicted and sentenced concurrently on fentanyl-related drug crimes in Phoenix.
Because of the number of crimes and aggravating circumstances associated with his case, Blackmore qualified for an extended prison sentence, Margeson said.
The sentence also reflects the threat of fentanyl crimes.
“Fentanyl causes untold harm, and people who distribute fentanyl are deserving of Department of Corrections sentences to preserve the safety of the community,” Margeson said.
According to arrest affidavits and police records, Blackmore conspired with others to distribute counterfeit OxyContin pills laced with fentanyl from Blackmore’s residential property at 510 E. Arbecam Ave. in Cortez.
A search warrant executed on the home Oct. 28 revealed 748 counterfeit OxyContin fentanyl pills, 45.3 grams of meth, drug paraphernalia, a stolen handgun and blasting caps. The total estimated street value of the illegal narcotics was estimated to be between $15,000 and $23,000.
The affidavit notes the home was 326 feet from the Kemper Elementary School.
On Nov. 4, Blackmore was arrested by the Phoenix Police Department with 1,000 fentanyl pills in his possession, according to police reports.
Montezuma County Sheriff Detective Victor Galarza, of the Montezuma-Cortez Narcotics Investigation Team, told The Journal he believed Blackmore intended to bring the pills to Montezuma County, and was leading a drug trafficking operation out of Cortez supplied by the Mexican cartels.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration took over the investigation on Nov. 5. Blackmore was extradited to Montezuma County Detention Center.
When arrested in Phoenix, 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.
“I want to emphasize to the public that the Montezuma-Cortez Narcotics Team is increasing its efforts to go after individuals distributing narcotics in order to combat this dangerous problem,” Galarza said Monday in response to the conviction and sentence.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. It was originally manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry for pain management of cancer patients. Because of its potency and addictiveness, it is easy to abuse and has been illegally produced to sell in the drug trade.
The DEA and U.S. Department of Health have issued public warnings about fentanyl because of the risk of fatal overdoses. Fentanyl often is disguised in the illegal drug trade as other less potent pharmaceutical products such as OxyContin, Xanax and Percocet pills.
According to the DEA, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are among the deadliest drug threats in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 107,622 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021 and 66% of them were related to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Only 2 milligrams of fentanyl is considered a potentially lethal dose, and it’s particularly dangerous for someone who does not have a tolerance to opioids.
A combination of fentanyl and alcohol led to the fatal overdoses of three people March 4 at the Sand Canyon National 9 Inn in Cortez.