An Arizona man suspected of importing and distributing large quantities of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine in La Plata County was a no-show this week at his scheduled jury trial.
District Court Judge Suzanne Carlson issued a no-bail arrest warrant for Salvador Estrada, who is charged with importing and distributing narcotics, among other charges, related to his arrest in January 2016.
The jury trial was scheduled to start Monday; everyone showed up, including potential jurors, except for the defendant.
His Durango defense lawyer, Brian Schowalter, declined to comment Friday. Efforts to reach his Denver defense lawyer, John M. Richilano, were unsuccessful Friday afternoon.
Estrada was free on a $150,000 cash bail, which he forfeits by being on the lam.
Estrada was arrested in connection with a nine-month investigation, dubbed “Operation Bad Mule,” which culminated with the seizure of about $1.3 million worth of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine by the Southwest Drug Task Force in La Plata County.
He was one of three arrested on suspicion of trafficking drugs into the region. The others were Stacy Lutz and Raquel Salazar, all of Casa Grande, Arizona.
Lutz pleaded guilty to two counts of felony drug possession and was sentenced to a year in jail and three years probation. Salazar pleaded guilty to intent to distribute controlled substances and was sentenced to four years probation.
Authorities seized 10 pounds of meth, 7 pounds of heroin, 2.3 ounces of cocaine, $5,100 in cash and two automobiles.
The task force characterized Estrada as the kingpin of the drug smuggling ring.
Estrada faces several decades in prison if found guilty.