Fourth of July weekend pursuit leads to drug bust in Rifle |

Fourth of July weekend pursuit leads to drug bust in Rifle

Ray K. Erku
Post Independent

RIFLE — A high-speed pursuit and a traffic stop a day later led to a felony arrest and the discovery of more than a half-pound of methamphetamine and additional 51 fentanyl pills in Rifle.

Rifle resident Miguel Lopez-Mares, 25, was arrested July 3 on felony unlawful possession with intent to distribute and several additional charges, after leading the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office on a two-day manhunt.

A Garfield County Sheriff’s Office deputy first made contact with Lopez-Mares during a traffic stop July 2. An arrest affidavit states that Lopez-Mares was driving a vehicle with three passengers when a deputy tried pulling him over for having a license plate that did not match its make and model. Lopez-Mares, however, kept going and led the deputy on a high-speed pursuit through south Rifle. 

The sedan eventually turned off all its lights and came to an abrupt stop, and Lopez-Mares allegedly took off running toward a culvert while sheriff’s deputies and assisting Rifle police officers held the three remaining suspects at gunpoint. The remaining suspects were arrested without incident and interrogated, while an ensuing search of the vehicle revealed multiple bags of meth totaling 60.18 grams, hypodermic needles and other drug paraphernalia, the affidavit states. 

Lopez-Mares successfully evaded a pursuing deputy on foot. The deputy, however, found a backpack that Lopez-Mares allegedly discarded during the foot pursuit containing 173.98 grams of confirmed meth.

“Inside the backpack was another large bag of white crystal substance,” the affidavit states. “There was also multiple bags with red and pink hearts on them.”

An officer with experience on a gang unit said Miguel-Lopez was a member of the Sureno/KTA gangs known by his alias “Joker,” which was corroborated during officers’ questioning of the passengers. Lopez-Mares had 10 warrants out for his arrest, including three felony warrants.

Just after 5 p.m. on July 3, two Rifle police officers on patrol followed a van with no license plates into the Lion’s Park Circle rest area and initiated a traffic stop. Knowing the physical description of Lopez-Mares identified the night before, the officer discovered the man sitting in the back of the van trying to conceal his face with a white shirt the driver handed to him, the affidavit states.

The officers called for backup and placed Lopez-Mares at gunpoint, telling him to keep his hands up. 

“Miguel refused to comply and started screaming at officers to shoot him,” the arresting officer stated in the affidavit. “Miguel at one point reached over the driver from the back seat and tried to get the vehicle in drive.”

The vehicle failed to go into drive, and Lopez-Mares attempted to flee on foot, but an officer tased him and then successfully arrested him. When placed in a patrol vehicle, Lopez-Mares began banging his head against a window and the center partition of the vehicle.

“I opened the vehicle and attempted to push Miguel against the seat to prevent him from harming himself,” the arresting officer stated in the affidavit. “My right arm was across Miguel’s body on Miguel’s upper left chest. Miguel bent his head down and bit me on my right forearm.”

Lopez-Mares was then placed into a safety helmet and taken to Grand River Health hospital before his transfer to the Garfield County Jail.

“While en route to Grand River Hospital, Miguel did remove the safety helmet and began hitting his head again,” the affidavit states.

During this time, authorities discovered 51 blue fentanyl pills in Lopez-Mares’ possession.

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