Safford – A man suspected of just purchasing heroin was arrested and charged with tampering physical evidence after swallowing a substance believed to be heroin.
You never know when somebody’s watching you and if you happen to buy drugs when a police officer is nearby in an unmarked car, watching with binoculars, things probably aren’t going to go well.
On Friday, January 18, a Safford police officer in an unmarked car observed a man in a red sweatshirt knock on the door of a home allegedly known to be frequented by people involved in criminal activity. The officer observed that the man was admitted to the home by a man known by prior police contact as, “Kit Kat.” The man in the read sweatshirt came out of the home about 5 minutes later, walking toward the police officer. The officer had been observing the man’s activity from a distance using binoculars. The officer observed the man place something in his sweater pocket and take it out several times as he walked. As the man came closer to the unmarked police cruiser, the officer could see that the man had something wrapped in a white piece of plastic and was unwrapping it as he walked.
The officer approached the suspect in his patrol car and rolled down his window to talk the man. When the suspect saw the officer’s uniform he picked up his pace. The officer asked if he could talk to the man, who said yes, but did not stop walking. When the officer told the man he had seen what he had, the suspect took the plastic package from his pocket and put it in his mouth.
The officer told the man, who verbally identified himself as Ted Romero, that he believed the man had just ingested drugs. Romero voluntarily complied with a search, but the officer was unable to locate anything on the suspect’s person or in his mouth. The officer told him that he knew that he had ingested drugs and asked how much heroin Romero had eaten. Romero said he ate less than a dub (.2g). Romero said he bought the drugs from Kit Kat for $5.00. The officer asked if the suspect thought he might overdose on heroin and Romero said no, indicating that he regularly used that amount. When asked why he ate the drugs, Romero said he did it so there wouldn’t be any evidence.
Romero was charged with tampering physical evidence for eating the heroin and placed under arrest. He was transported to the hospital and was kept for observation due to the ingestion. According to the policer report, Romero signed a consent to release his medical records, including lab results. Charges were forwarded to the County Attorney’s office.