A judge signed an order Monday agreeing with a prosecution request to dismiss charges in Moffat County District Court against a suspected drug distributor.
Horacio Contreras-Alcala, a man the All Crimes Enforcement Team arrested in March, was charged in District Court with distribution of a Schedule 2 controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute and conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, all felonies.
He pleaded not guilty and was scheduled for a five-day jury trial beginning Jan. 12.
However, a motion filed Friday by the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office asked the court to dismiss all charges against Contreras-Alcala.
Prosecutor Jeremy Snow's motion explains the reasons for dismissal.
He wrote that the District Attorney's Office and Contreras-Alcala and his defense attorney, Charles Feldmann, of Steamboat Springs, thought the case was resolved through a plea agreement.
But, according to the motion, the "defendant changed his mind at the last minute" and he persisted in his plea of not guilty.
"Due to the delay caused by this change in circumstances combined with the holiday season, the People were unable to secure the necessary expert witnesses needed to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt," the motion reads. "At this point, the People will not be able to secure these expert witnesses before trial."
The circumstances meant prosecutors were "forced to dismiss this case and they will not be able to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt at trial."
Michael O'Hara, chief judge of the 14th Judicial District, dismissed the charges and vacated the trial Monday afternoon.
The District Attorney's Office issued no further comment.
ACET and prosecutors alleged Contreras-Alcala was part of one of Northwest Colorado's largest drug distribution networks. Charges against suspects arrested stemmed from an ACET probe into methamphetamine and cocaine distribution.
To date, the case has yielded 10 convictions - all handled by the District Attorney's Office - and sentences totaling more than 46 years in prison and $30,000 in fines.
The final suspect to be sentenced is Russell Stewert McDiffett, who a jury found guilty in November of distribution of a Schedule 2 controlled substance. He is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 14 in District Court.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, Contreras-Alcala was still in custody at the Moffat County Jail.