A total of 36 people were arrested, Wednesday, by a multijurisdictional taskforce in what was called Operation Wrap-Up. It is the second operation of this kind in the past two years. Warrants were served on 30 people. An additional six were arrested. The operation still has six outstanding warrants to serve.
“The vast majority have prior drug charges,” said District Attorney Janetta Hicks.
During the raid, seven firearms and 9.5 pounds of illegal drugs — methamphetamines, heroine and marijuana — with an estimated street value of $15,000 were seized.
The operation started around 6 a.m. By noon, the last warrants had been served, but the operation had been in the planning stages for three to four months.
The raid was spearheaded by the Chaves County Drug Taskforce and the District Attorney’s Office, 5th Judicial District, with the support of 13 other agencies, including: the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, the Roswell Police Department, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Ruidoso Police Department, the Ruidoso Downs Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Lea County Drug Task Force, the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force, the Lincoln County Drug Task Force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the National Guard.
Hicks also credited the Magistrate Court Records Department, which worked all day Tuesday to prepare the warrants, and Chaves County Detention Center, which processed the prisoners. She said Chaves County has the ability and the resources close by to effect such a massive operation.
A number of the assistant district attorneys rode along with the law enforcement while they conducted their raid. Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Murphy said: “Agencies throughout Southeast New Mexico were involved in this operation. Such coordination allowed law enforcement to make multiple arrests within the first 10 minutes.”
Roswell Police Chief Phil Smith expressed his appreciation for efforts of the drug task force and coordination of Cmdr. Alan Stevenson.
Lt. Gary Smith, of the New Mexico State Police Criminal Investigation Division in Santa Fe, acknowledged the cooperation of the City of Roswell and agencies from across the state.
“This an example of what can be accomplished when agencies work together. It takes resources. It takes time and they were on top of it,” said former FBI agent Dennis Kintigh.
Hicks predicted that the citizens of Roswell may see a drop in burglaries. “A lot of people steal to support their habit.”
Chaves County Sheriff Rob Coon agreed. “It’s good to see a number of drug dealers and burglars off the street.”
DA Investigator Pat Barncastle said: “This is clear and convincing evidence of the magnitude of the drug problem. If you insist on trafficking in Chaves County, you can be sure that they will be coming around and knocking on your door.”
Hicks concluded: “This was phenomenal police work. My staff also worked very hard. We will be glad to see their drug activities curtailed. There are a few more warrants, but this puts a dent in it.”
City Councilor Jason Perry praised the operation. “It goes to show if you don’t do drugs, you can live quite happily and safely in Roswell.”
Those arrested on warrants were all charged with second-degree felony drug trafficking, with bonds of $50,000.
Note: This is a list of people who had warrants issued for their arrest (which explains the discrepancy between the total 36 arrested and the 30 names here). The DA did not give us a list of the additional people arrested.
Gilbert Rodriguez Jr.