MONTE VISTA — Authorities are investigating a case of what appears to be drug-tainted dollar bills at a Monte Vista bank.
Monte Vista Police Chief Jim Grayson reported on Monday that officers from his department responded to a possible hazardous material call at San Luis Valley Federal Bank, 330 Solar Avenue, in Monte Vista at approximately 5:42 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 22.
When the officers arrived they found Joseph Michael Gutierrez, 24, of Del Norte at the bank’s drive-up window attempting to exchange numerous one-dollar bills for larger bills. The dollar bills had a strange odor and appeared to have been wet. At least one teller handling the bills reported tingling and numbness in the hands as a result of touching the bills.
The Monte Vista Fire Department and San Luis Valley Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) unit responded to the scene. Presumptive field tests for hazardous materials were negative, but a sample of the bills did test positive for the presence of cocaine, according to Chief Grayson.
Gutierrez was booked into the Rio Grande County Jail on several outstanding misdemeanor failure-to-appear warrants. The MV Police Department and the United States Secret Service out of Denver are continuing to investigate the dollar bills.
Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to contact the Monte Vista Police Department at 719-852-5111 or San Luis Valley Crime Stoppers at 719-589-4111.