Large stash of drugs, $400,000 in stolen artwork recovered by police from Colorado hotel room

The Boulder Police Department announced Monday that they have recovered $400,000 in stolen American paintings.

On the evening of December 14, employees of a company transporting several pieces of art from Los Angeles to Englewood, CO and Sante Fe, New Mexico stayed the night at a hotel in Boulder. The next morning, they discovered that the truck’s padlock had been cut open. Five paintings, all from well-known American artists, had vanished.

The paintings being transported included an Elaine de Kooning, famous for her abstract portraits of President John F. Kennedy, a bucolic painting by Jane Freilicher, and three landscapes depicting the Taos and Laguna Pueblos by well-known members of the Taos Society of Artists.

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When Patrol Officer Patrick Meehan learned that the artwork was in a hotel room in Lakewood, the Boulder Police Department coordinated with their Lakewood colleagues to seize their opportunity.

A search of the room resulted in the recovery of all the stolen artwork, still intact, as well as numerous other stolen items, such as handguns and electronics. Additionally, officers recovered a large stash of drugs: nearly 2,000 fentanyl pills and 23 grams of methamphetamine.

The suspect has been identified as Brandon Camacho-Levine, 31, and has been booked on an array of charges totaling nearly 20.

The FBI also assisted in the investigation.

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“This is a prime example of the great policework our officers do every day in Boulder, and I could not be more proud of Officer Meehan, Patrol, the Special Enforcement Unit and our partners at the Lakewood Police Department. Not only did we recover this artwork still intact, but we also took these deadly drugs that plague our community off the street,” Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said.

The art advisor for the Colorado couple whose two paintings were stolen expressed outrage at the turn of events.

“My reaction was fury. I was so upset that they had been taken,” said Colleen Fanning. “We were shocked and appalled and had no idea that something like this could even happen.”

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Boulder Police explained that the black market for stolen artwork is not as large as it used to be.