Police sting nets 24 arrests

by Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

With the temperature in the 20s, Thursday would have been a good morning to sleep in, to stay snuggled under the covers.
But for two dozen suspected drug dealers, there would be no extra sleep. At 6 a.m. on Thursday they got a different kind of wakeup alarm.
About 50 police officers had fanned out across the streets of Tucumcari and began knocking on doors, rousting suspects out of bed and arresting them.
In all, 24 men and women, ranging in ages from 21 to 72, were arrested.
“It was a sting,” said Larry Ham, Tucumcari Police Chief, that was dubbed Operation CI (Confidential Informant). It was the result of a three-month investigation by undercover drug personnel, he said.
During the investigation, an undercover narcotics officer from the Tucumcari Police Department purchased illegal drugs from drug dealers, Ham said.
“We started at 6 a.m. and by 7:45 a.m., we had 21 in custody,” Ham said.
Those who were arrested were taken to the Tucumcari Convention Center. The center was the best facility in town that could provide enough room to bring in suspects, take mug shots and process their arrests, said assistant district attorney Don Schutte who was also at the center.
Following those procedures they were then taken to the Quay County Detention Center.
Two of the suspects arrested each had a small child and staff from the state’s Children Youth and Family Department were also at the center to take the children into protective custody.
Of the 24 arrested, 13 were arrested for trafficking methamphetamines, which is considered to be one of the most addictive drugs, Ham said.
“There’s a serious drug problem in Tucumcari,” Ham said. “Other cities also have similar problems, too. And, many other crimes, such as burglaries, larcenies and identity thefts, are usually drug related crimes.”
The raid was conducted in the early morning because many drug users are known to party late into the morning hours. “That’s the only time of day they are at home and in bed,” Ham said. “And you bang on their door and there’s not going to be much resistance.”
In fact, none of those arrested resisted arrest, Ham said.
The operation was a project of the Region V Drug Task Force, which Ham chairs.
“It includes every enforcement agency in this part of the state,” Ham said, adding that state and municipal police officers from surrounding cities participated in the arrests.
“Area law enforcement agencies share similar problems, such as combating drugs in our communities and, often, with limited resources and staff, by pooling our resources, we can be more effective,” Ham said.

Here’s the list of those arrested, their ages and felony charges against them. All are from Tucumcari:
l Eugene Gonzales, 42, two counts distribution of marijuana, second offense.
l Peter Narbaez, 46, one count distribution of marijuana.
l Davonna McKey, 21, one count trafficking methamphetamine.
l Victor Rivera, 37, three counts conspiracy, seven counts trafficking methamphetamine.
l Caroline Bailey, 38, three counts distribution of a controlled substance.
l David Smith, 55, three counts distribution of a controlled substance, one count conspiracy.
l Melinda Campbell, 43, three counts trafficking methamphetamine, one count distribution of marijuana, second offense, one count conspiracy.
l Ryck Rutherford, 51, three counts trafficking methamphetamine.
l Robert Segura, 54, one count conspiracy.
l Donald Strope, 50, one count trafficking methamphetamine.
l Edward Sandoval, 39, one count distribution of marijuana.
l Johnny Martinez, 25, two counts trafficking methamphetamine, first-degree felony
l Cody Freeman, 24, two counts trafficking methamphetamine, two counts distribution of a controlled substance, one count conspiracy.
l Ignacio Armijo,48, five counts trafficking methamphetamine.
l Christopher Randol, 33, five counts trafficking methamphetamine, two counts distribution of marijuana, second offense, one count conspiracy.
l David Arnette, 37, two counts trafficking methamphetamine, one count distribution of marijuana, one count conspiracy.
l Jennifer Stroud, 33, three counts distribution of marijuana.
l Lenora (Lori) Pruitt, 24, two counts distribution of marijuana.
l Alexander Montano, 42, one count trafficking methamphetamine, five counts distribution of marijuana, five counts conspiracy.
l Bonnett Strope, 32, three counts trafficking methamphetamine, one count conspiracy.
l Richard Chavez, 42, one count distribution of marijuana.
l Patrick Rivera, 33, one count trafficking metharnphetamine, one count conspiracy.
l Robert Paulson, 72, one count distribution of marijuana.
l Johnny Herndon, 37, three counts distribution of marijuana.