Judge tosses drug charges

Arresting officers’ actions cited

A drug trafficking case was tossed out of District Court last week after prosecutors questioned the “lawful scope” of the arrest.

Assistant District Attorney Sean Murray requested the pending felony drug charges be “dismissed without prejudice.” Murray said the actions of local K-9 officers “became murkier” after they requested to detain a man initially stopped by a state trooper for a minor traffic violation.

Murray, public defender Kenneth Pace and District Court Judge Doug Walker met in chambers prior to the suppression hearing on Thursday, July 31. Cortez Police Department officers did not attend the proceedings.

“There are some issues about the stop,” said Walker.

The Colorado State Patrol initially stopped Maynard Peltier, 61, of Dolores, for an alleged improper turn near the Ute Mountain Casino on March 12.

Peltier was subsequently arrested at the scene by the Cortez Police Department and charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Court records reveal Peltier did not consent to the K-9 officers’ search.

A “free air sniff” was conducted despite the defendant’s objection, and the K-9 officers were alerted to the passenger door of the vehicle, providing authorities with probable cause to search the vehicle, according to court records.

Authorities allegedly discovered and seized 8 grams of methamphetamines from the suspect’s vehicle.

Police also seized $1,000 in cash, a ledger with dollar amounts, a meth pipe, digital scales, a spoon and multiple cell phones, according to court records.

Walker reminded the defendant that other charges remained pending in county court.