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Press Release

Durango Drug Dealer Who Fled Police, Scattering Fentanyl Pills on Main Avenue, Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado

DURANGO – Robert James Russell Simmons, age 37, of Durango, Colorado, was sentenced to serve 10 years in federal prison, followed by 5 years on supervised release, for possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.

According to court documents and facts presented during sentencing, investigators with the Southwest Drug Task Force observed a drug deal involving Simmons in the Durango Transit Lot in September 2022.  La Plata County Sheriff’s Deputies approached Simmons, who was seated in a Dodge Charger. Deputies asked Simmons to step out of the car.  In response, Simmons put the Charger into reverse and accelerated, causing the Charger to hit one Deputy in the arm and knee, requiring a hospital visit.  Simmons then accelerated forward out of the Transit Lot, turning onto 8th Street, and then veering the wrong way past “Do Not Enter” signs on Narrow-Gauge Avenue.  Halfway down the block, the Charger was blocked by a truck coming the other direction.  Simmons pulled into a parking lot, colliding with a parked truck.  Simmons then fled on foot carrying a bag of small, blue pills containing fentanyl.  He ran through the parking lot, across Main Avenue, and threw the bag of fentanyl pills into a trashcan.  Law enforcement later found a trail of blue pills that went from the site of the car crash to the trashcan.  Pills were also located on Main Avenue and the nearby sidewalk.  Law enforcement later secured a search warrant for the Charger and found 840 grams of a methamphetamine mixture (or roughly 3,360 individual doses).

“Durango is a little safer today with this drug dealer being bars,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan.  “Fentanyl is extraordinarily dangerous.  We will continue to prosecute the dealers who seek to profit from this poison and endanger everyone in our community.”

“This sentencing sends the very clear message that HSI and our partners will relentlessly investigate and prosecute those who try to transport drugs across the state filling our communities with poison,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, Special Agent in Charge, HSI Denver.  “Every day our agents are on the streets to ensure people like this end up with significant time behind bars.”  

“The Southwest Drug Task Force is committed to keeping La Plata County safe for everyone in our community,” said Commander Joey LaVenture of the Southwest Drug Task Force. “ We commend the work of our deputies, officers and federal law enforcement partners in this prosecution of this dangerous fentanyl dealer.”

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, 6 out of 10 fentanyl pills tested contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.

United States District Court Judge Gordon P. Gallagher presided over the sentencing on October 4, 2023, finding that sentencing enhancements applied for use of violence and reckless endangerment based on Simmons’s conduct fleeing from law enforcement.   Simmons appeared at the sentencing hearing in custody and was remanded at its conclusion.

This case was investigated by the Southwestern Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, and the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.  The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey K. Graves.

Case Number:  23-cr-00006-GPG-JMC

Updated October 5, 2023

Drug Trafficking