The Chaves County Magistrate Court in Roswell, in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies successfully completed Operation WASP (Warrant Arrest Service Project). It is part of an ongoing process to find and arrest defendants with outstanding warrants.
The warrants ranged from felonies such as distribution of methamphetamines, battery on a household member, to traffic misdemeanors.
The warrant service covered all of Chaves County. A total of 250 warrants were checked, of those, 50 had out-of-state addresses.
“We knocked on a total of 200 doors. … We cleared some 30 warrants, many had multiple warrants. We went as far as Lake Arthur to pick up prisoners,” said Chaves County Sheriff Lt. Britt Snyder.
Chief of Police Al Solis said, “This is run by Magistrate Court, and the RPD was not the only [auth] agency involved. We were just one of a few agencies.”
Sheriff Rob Coon said the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office took the lead. “We had 10 or 12 guys in on it. We went in and picked up the warrants.”
The Roswell Police Department contributed 15 officers, with five from New Mexico State Police and one from the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
The Chaves County Detention Center and the Chaves County Misdemeanor Compliance Office also participated in the project that started on Wednesday and ran throughout the week.
“We’ve been planning this for two months. Magistrate Court put all the paperwork and the packages together. We want to compliment them for all their hard work. That’s the difficult part,” said Snyder.
Chaves County Detention Center acted as headquarters for Operation WASP and brought in special staff from their Special Operations Response Team to do a lot of the logistical work. RPD Commander Eric Brackeen headed the police operations.
“We made the SWAT team available in case we had any siege situations,” said Solis.
The program also targeted those people who have outstanding bench warrants for failure to appear in court, failure to pay fines and failure to comply with the conditions of their release.
District Attorney Janetta Hicks said the round-up was part of an ongoing program.
Snyder noted the warrants served represented the tip of the iceberg. Law enforcement plan to have another round-up in the near future.
Both Hicks and Solis praised the effort of the officers. “I think it’s a good program. The criminal justice system has a lot of outstanding warrants and we were happy to participate,” Solis said. Hicks agreed.
“We were not really involved … but we appreciate and support law enforcement efforts in serving these warrants. Victims of crimes are often concerned when a defendant remains at large.”
Coon warned those with outstanding warrants need to take care of them, or face being picked up in the future.
Chaves County Magistrate Court Manager Tobie Fouratt urged people to come forward.
“Any person with an outstanding warrant is encouraged to avoid incarceration by addressing obligations prior to arrest.”
“You can pay fines over the internet now,” explained Snyder.
Information on outstanding warrants is available at the New Mexico Judiciary website, nmcourts.gov, or by contacting the Chaves County Magistrate Court in Roswell at 624-6088.