Informants and neighbors were instrumental in helping authorities identify and establish cause to search the home of an alleged drug dealer in the area.
Law enforcement personnel from the Safford and Thatcher police departments along with Graham County Sheriff’s Department detectives worked on the case.
At approximately 1:30 PM on Thursday, May 30, 2019, police officers from Safford and Thatcher spoke with a confidential informant (C.I.) at the Safford police department. The informant told authorities that they wanted to remain anonymous.
The C.I. admitted to using heroin for the past four years but was seeking treatment for the addiction. According to the police report, the C.I. met a man named, Manny Rodriguez several months ago and began purchasing heroin from him. The C.I. shared extensive knowledge of Rodriguez’s operation, including where he hides drugs in his house, and that he kept firearms in the home. The C.I. said that the back door of Rodriguez’s house is the main entrance to the residence and the front door is blocked by an entertainment center.
The C.I. reported that Rodriguez has a lot of customers and is resupplied by out of town sources every two to three days.
The C.I. volunteered to go to Rodriguez’s residence to see what drugs and paraphernalia were there. The C.I. said that Rodriguez would “front” a small amount of heroin and that would allow the C.I. to observe what was in the house. After being searched for money and contraband the C.I. was taken to the area of Rodriguez’s residence in the 1300 block of First Avenue in Safford. It was agreed that the C.I would have no more than 30 minutes to complete the transaction. If the C.I. was not back within thirty minutes, law enforcement would begin potential rescue operations. The C.I was back in less than 30 minutes. The C.I. presented police with a .30 gram amount of heroin in a white plastic bag.
The C.I. reported that there were three guests at the house with Rodriguez. All four of them were smoking meth and heroin. While in the house, the C.I. reportedly spotted a large ball of heroin about the size of a softball on the table in the upstairs bedroom along with a digital scale and packaging materials.
The C.I. reported that a woman named, Angelika Zamora was also present at the home. Zamora is apparently a suppler for Rodriguez and transports and sell drugs to others in the area. The C.I told authorities that Zamora keeps a pistol with her.
After providing the above information, the informant left the police station.
According to the police report, authorities have observed a lot of vehicle and foot traffic in and out of the residence at all hours of the day and night. Neighbors had also alerted police to the amount of traffic in and out of the residence and asked that authorities do something about it.
Two officers drove to the residence after the C.I. left. When they arrived, they met Cassandra Medina in the front yard. Medina was apparently busy putting up some material on the chain link fence that surrounds the property. The material was a fabric mesh to prevent people from seeing through the fence. Rodriguez was there as well.
The officers told Rodriguez and Medina that neighbors had been complaining about drug activity in the residence. Rodriguez said that he was the owner of the home and that no such drug activity was happening. Medina denied being involved in any drug activity and went into the house. Rodriguez said that he had recently purchased the house from a relative. He insisted that there were no drugs or drug paraphernalia in the house because he had cleaned it all up from the previous occupants. He said that Medina did not live at the residence but stayed there occasionally. The officers asked Rodriguez if there might be drugs or paraphernalia left by the previous occupants. Rodriguez insisted that it was not possible. The officers asked Rodriguez for permission to search his home for drugs or related paraphernalia, but he refused to give them permission.
Information about the drug activity at the residence had been coming in for months from a variety of sources. Several months ago, a confidential informant told a detective with the Graham County Sheriff’s officer that Cassandra Medina was involved in selling large quantities of meth and transporting meth from Tucson to the Safford area.
In February, a D.P.S. officer and a Safford Police officer met with a concerned citizen at the Safford Police Department. The citizen told the officers that Rodriguez’s residence was involved in selling meth and heroin. The informant said that there are at least three to five drug dealers selling drugs from the residence to different clients. The informant identified one of the drug dealers as Joey Pena but did not know the names of the other dealers. The informant confessed to purchasing drugs from Pena. Pena was arrested for cocaine in 2008.
Other known associates or subjects who have visited the home include:
Cassandra Medina, who was recently arrested for drugs after leaving the residence. For more on Medina’s arrest, see Woman tries to run from authorities after suspected drug deal.
Adam Rollins has been seen in a tan Chevy Tahoe at the residence in the past couple of days. Rollins had a drug paraphernalia charge in 2014.
Shawn Goodrum is a known associate of Rodriguez based on jail house phone calls that were monitored by authorities. Goodrum was recently arrested for drug and gun charges. See Prohibited possessor found with 7 firearms.
Angelika Zamora was cited in 2018 for marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Using the information gathered about the residence, authorities were granted a “no knock” search warrant for Rodriguez’s residence. At approximately 7:30 PM last Thursday, 14 officers from Safford, Thatcher and the Sheriff’s office met at the Safford police department for a briefing before executing the search warrant. The officers staged themselves around the house and one of them drove to the backyard of the residence with lights and siren. Other officers stacked on the back door while the officer in the car used his P.A. system and announced, “Police, search warrant!” Officers surrounded the house and breached the back door. A distraction and diversion device was deployed inside the kitchen area.
A seventeen-year-old male ran out the front door and was detained by law enforcement. The juvenile was placed in the back of a patrol car and questioned. He agreed to show officers what items of drug paraphernalia belonged to him. He was later transported to the Graham County juvenile probation department where he was detained on charges of drug paraphernalia.
Other people were located in the first floor of the residence near the living room area. They were identified as Joseph Lujan, Dominik Olivero, and McKenzie Sanders. The three subjects were taken to the front porch area. Another man, identified as Brandon Ferguson was found in the downstairs bathroom. Ferguson apparently started having seizure and laid down on the floor. Emergency medical personnel were called to evaluate Ferguson and determined that he was faking the seizure.
The home contained numerous items of drug paraphernalia, a small amount of meth and marijuana. Neither Rodriguez nor his car were found on the property. The four adults who were found in the home denied ownership of any of the drug-related items that were found in the house. They all denied living at the residence and and denied knowledge of Rodriguez’s location.
One of the officers located a purse wallet in the living room with indicia for Sanders. The wallet contained a syringe and a bag of meth. When shown the contents, Sanders claimed responsibility for the items and reportedly confessed to using meth.
Authorities ran the VIN number for a trailer in the backyard that was reportedly stolen from Pinal County. Authorities took the trailer so that it could be returned. Ferguson was reportedly on probation and was booked into the Graham County Jail at the request of the probation department. The other three subject were released from the scene with possible charges pending.
Before securing the residence and leaving, authorities left a copy of the search warrant on the kitchen table with a list of items taken. As of this report, Rodriguez has not been apprehended.