Man accused of meth possession pleads guilty

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A man arrested for possession of methamphetamine in Socorro in 2010 was sentenced to 728 days in prison on July 12, 2012.

Victor Herrera, of Polvadera, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted possession of a controlled substance and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, both misdemeanors, in May. The first charge originally was possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, also known as trafficking, a second-degree felony that has significantly harsher penalties.

For those misdemeanors, Herrera was sentenced to two consecutive 364 day terms. He will most likely serve time at the Socorro County Detention Center, said Robert Cates, the senior prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Office.

Herrera was also charged with conspiracy to commit trafficking, a third-degree felony, and possession of a controlled substance, a fourth-degree felony, according to documents filed in district court. These charges were dismissed.

Cates contributes the lessened charge to the time between Herrera’s arrest and his sentencing. Also, the way the police searched for the evidence invalidated some of that evidence, he said.

The police, while searching the vehicle Herrera was driving when they stopped him, found a purse in which there were a couple of little bags of what they believed to be methamphetamine, according to a criminal complaint filed in magistrate court.

The charges against Herrera stem from a bust on Sept. 30, 2010, in which officers from Valencia County alerted Socorro police that Julian Chavez, of Los Lunas, who had felony warrants out for him, was coming into town. With the description of the vehicle and the approximate time of arrival, they staged a traffic stop, according to the criminal complaint.

Chavez was then positively identified using a printout from a National Crime Information Center database. At first, he denied he was the man the police were looking for, telling them they really wanted his brother. Detective Rocky Fernandez informed Chavez that he fit the description — height, weight, tattoos — given to police by Valencia County, and Chavez relented. He was removed from the vehicle.

The driver, Herrera, and Chavez’s wife, Tanya Carrillo, who was pregnant at the time, were also removed. Police noticed a glass pipe used to smoke methamphetamine on the seat of the vehicle. Herrera consented to a search, according to the complaint.

Under the driver’s seat, police found a purse that contained two bags of what the police believed to be methamphetamine, another pipe with meth residue and a container holding less than one ounce of marijuana, according to the criminal complaint. Also, while driving Carrillo to the police department, they found several Clonazepam pills, an anti-anxiety drug, that had fallen off her person in the back seat of a squad car. Carrillo denied she had these pills.

According to the complaint, the three suspects cooperated with the police when they were questioned about the meth in the car. Chavez told police both Herrera and he were using, but he did not know Herrera had a stash under his seat. He said they picked the meth up in Belen and were at a party.

Herrera told police he only sold the drugs at the party. According to the complaint, Chavez said Herrera and he were “more using than selling” the methamphetamines. Carrillo said the two men were selling in order to keep up their habit.

Chavez told the police he had swallowed his whole stash when he realized the cops were pulling them over. He was taken to Socorro General Hospital. He was charged with the same crimes as Herrera. His jury trial is set for Nov. 5, 2012.

Carrillo was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, both misdemeanors. The charges were dismissed in early 2011 because she completed an A.S.P.E.N. class, a program that attempts to prevent users from using again and to teach them the negative effects of their drug use.