John Michael Shawn Hughes

John Michael Shawn Hughes

A 20-year-old man from Glendale, Arizona — who was pulled over in August last year and charged with a class 1 drug felony after an Eagle County Sheriff’s deputy found nearly 19 pounds of narcotics in his vehicle — was sentenced to 16 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections in Eagle County District Court on Monday.

John Michael Shawn Hughes pleaded guilty to the drug felony on Feb. 28; as part of the plea agreement, the other charges he was facing were dropped.  

On Aug. 18, Hughes was traveling eastbound along I-70 toward Denver when an Eagle County Sheriff’s Deputy spotted him “driving erratically and following too close to another vehicle,” according to a press release from the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. “After pulling Hughes over for a traffic stop, Hughes admitted to not having any car insurance and seemed confused about who actually owned the vehicle he was driving.”

Hughes told law enforcement that he was heading to Denver to visit his “family,” the release continued — though he could not answer questions specifying where said family actually lived. 

“As Hughes acted nervous and suspicious, the deputy initiated a search of the vehicle  where nearly 19 pounds of narcotics were found,” it explains.

Among the illicit drugs found were more than 5 pounds of heroin, 8.7 pounds of synthetic opioid fentanyl in pill form and nearly 5 pounds of cocaine. The total gross  weight of narcotics was 18.7 pounds.  

In 2019, more than 36,000 deaths involving synthetic opioids (other than methadone) occurred in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — more deaths than from any other type of opioid. In 2020, 1,477 Coloradans died of drug overdoses, and opioids were the cause of those deaths, followed by methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine.  

“Across the district, our numbers for drug overdoses and related deaths are increasing  dramatically,” said 5th Judicial District Attorney Heidi McCollum. “And the danger now is that any illegal drug could be laced with fentanyl without the consumer or user knowing it. This creates a  deadly scenario where you are literally playing Russian Roulette with your life.”