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RAIN in March

Regional Agency Intervention Network gets March update form Colfax sheriff’s office

by Carol Bridge

RATON — The Regional Agency Intervention Network (RAIN) met on March 1 with healthy participation from all of the area’s agencies and organizations. About 30 people attended to be updated on progress and to continue working on subcommittee goals.

Leonard M. Baca, Colfax County Undersheriff, speaks to the group about the disturbing effects that drug abuse has on the community and on local law enforcement. Photo by Carol Bridge

Leonard Baca, Colfax County Undersheriff, gave an informative and troubling talk about the effects of drugs in Colfax County. He spoke about a range of drugs, their effects, the lethality of even small amounts, and what the sheriff’s department needs from the community. The chemicals that are used to boost heroin or cocaine (fentanyl) are extremely dangerous – even skin contact can be deadly – and pose a threat to officers who are collecting them for forensic reasons.

Closer to home, Baca spoke about a recent drug bust in Pueblo (1.5 hours away) where 8 million dollars worth of heroin, 35 firearms, and over a half million dollars were seized. He said the I-25 corridor is a main national thoroughfare for these drugs and reminded us that people using this highway often stop in Raton to eat or sleep.

New Mexico has a rising violent crime rate, and most of it is a result of drugs, either primarily or collaterally. Colfax County has had two major opiate cases. One resulted from a traffic stop on Highway 64, in which synthetic opiate was discovered and Home Security became involved. The other case was initiated by a traffic crash on I-25, in which 171 grams of heroin, 6 oz of cocaine, and 5 oz of methamphetamine were seized. To lay readers these amounts may seem small, but the lethality of the substances makes it very important.

According to Baca’s presentation, “An estimated 90% of criminal investigations by the Colfax County Sheriff’s office have at least the contributing element of a controlled substance.” In one year there have been:

  • 60 cases involving methamphetamines
  • 19 cases involving heroin
  • 14 cases of marijuana
  • 9 cases involving suboxone
  • 7 cases involving hydrocordone.
  • 2 of Alprazolam
  • 1 of steroids and
  • 1 of cocaine

The sheriff’s office has continued its proactive stance on chemical abuse by participating in ongoing training, Naloxone certification (used in overdoses), case law update training, and policy changes to reflect best law enforcement practice.

Baca told the group that the sheriff’s department needs the following from the community: Petition law makers to change laws that inhibit officers. More funding for personal protection equipment. Continued tips about suspected criminal activity. Better laws to strengthen officers ability to arrest and investigate crime. Increase overtime budgets and the addition of more officers.

Baca sees the communities’ top priorities to be having a juvenile detention facility and to have a dedicated, licensed psychologist to treat or assess suspects and offenders and to make recommendations to the court. Funding for training specific to drug intervention, a narcotics K-9 unit, surveillance equipment, forensic computer software, and hardware available to local law enforcement.

For more information find Colfax County Sheriff’s Office on Facebook or call 575-445-5561.