United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officials commended Los Alamos Police Department personnel Friday for the success of Operation Spring Cleaning, the March 20 drug sweep that resulted in the arrest of seven people on trafficking charges.
“An impressive amount of investigation and preparation was dedicated to this operation,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sean Waite. “The results of this operation are a testament to the efforts of the Los Alamos Police Department. These long-term investigations have the greatest effect on the community and will make Los Alamos safer for all its residents.”
Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone said the scourge of drug abuse and drug-related crime affects every community.
“I commend the Department for coming together and collaborating with local law enforcement to make this operation a success. The Los Alamos Police Department will continue to aggressively investigate drug crime, while partnering within the community to provide education, prevention, and treatment programming where we can,” Sgambellone said.
The sweep was the result of some four months of work by the department’s Criminal Investigation Team members, Det. Sgt. James Rodriguez, Det. Ryan Wolking and Det. Matthew Lyon. LAPD was assisted the morning of the operation by personnel from New Mexico State Police (NMSP), the New Mexico Department of Corrections (NMDOC) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (USDEA) who provided additional manpower, drug-sniffing dogs and helicopter support. The LAPD detectives were involved with the searches of all six residences and a vehicle.
The parking lot at Los Alamos Middle School was used as a staging area prior to the 7 a.m. raids but had been cleared prior to the arrival of students. A Los Alamos Fire Department ambulance was on hand as well as personnel from New Mexico Child Youth and Families Department.
Arrested were: Nicholas Conner, Kathy Gibbons, Byron Henderson, Anthony Knief, Nichole Marsh and Amanda Osbourne. All seven were conditionally released on their own recognizance by Magistrate Court Judge Pat Casados but Osbourne and Henderson were reincarcerated after violating the conditions of release by testing positive for methamphetamines. Detectives say the suspects were released before the paperwork on their cases was even completed.
In the weeks prior to the operation, a total of 16 drug purchases were made from the suspects by a confidential informant. LAPD detectives say these types of purchases are manpower and time intensive.
Det. Sgt. James Rodriguez said the operation came together well. He said the cases were not reported to them but had but had been built by detectives off prior cases.
“I was very impressed by the efficiency of all the LAPD officers involved as well as the cohesiveness of the entire operation considering the number of officers from different agencies involved on March 20,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez joined LAPD in 2005 and became a detective-sergeant in 2014. Wolking served with the Kentucky State Police for four years and joined LAPD three years ago. He was promoted to detective last year. Lyon spent six years with Socorro Police Department and joined LAPD in 2014.
Details of what transpired at each of the seven residences searched during the operation have been released by LAPD records personnel. The information below is taken from incident reports filed by the officers involved.
Det. Sgt. James Rodriguez executed a search warrant on the home of Anthony Knief on 41st Street. He was accompanied by Cpl. Jaime Gonzales, three NMSP officers, an NMDOC K9 officer and a USDEA agent. Rodriguez knocked on the door and when it opened, he observed Knief standing inside. He grabbed Knief by his sweater and pulled him outside where he was handcuffed, told there was an active warrant for his arrest, and transported to the detention center by a NMSP officer.
The K9 officer then walked his drug dog through the home. The dog allegedly alerted in a room downstairs near the back of the home where Rodriguez found a case with dried marijuana residue on it containing two glass pipes, three lighters, a razor and a small bag stamped with green marijuana leaves. He also found a white plate resting on top of a box and when he removed it, he saw a gift card with a rolled white wax-type paper. When he lifted the items from the plate, he saw more white powder which tested positive in a cocaine field kit. Also in the room, he found a soft-shell cooler with jars that allegedly had marijuana residue on them.
Later at the police department, other items found in the bag included two marijuana grinders, four glass pipes, a container with a dark brown wax substance inside, a scale, a small white bottle containing a white powdery substance, and small plastic bags containing a white powdery substance which later positive for cocaine. Rodriguez also found a backpack which held a sandwich bag of what were later identified as dried Psilocybin mushrooms.
A search of the living room produced a prescription bottle wrapped in a black and yellow sticker, a small tin container and a sandwich bag containing a white powder which later tested positive for cocaine. In a freezer, Rodriguez located a small brown glass jar with a dropper-type lid which was wrapped in a napkin and contained a clear liquid which tested positive for lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).
In a bedroom upstairs, Rodriguez found a duffle bag in the closet which contained unlabeled empty prescription bottles, a black scale, a marijuana grinder, a spoon with a white substance in its bowl and several bottles of pills which were later identified as prescription pills, some of them controlled substances.
Knief was charged with two counts of trafficking, one count of intent to distribute, one count of possession of marijuana, eight counts of possession of a controlled substance, 13 counts of dangerous drugs; conditions for sale; prescription refilling, and three counts of possession of paraphernalia. He was provided with a copy of the search warrant, return of inventory, criminal complaint, and probable cause. Knief refused to talk about the case until he retained a lawyer. The woman who was in the house also refused to be interviewed until her lawyer was present.
Sgt. Brent Hudspeth led a team to an apartment at 600 San Ildefonso Road. He was accompanied by Cpl. Ben Irving, three NMSP officers and a DEA agent. Hudspeth knocked on the door. Osbourne answered the door and was asked to step out. After she was handcuffed by Irving, she was asked who else was in the home and responded just she and her children. The children were removed from the home and taken to school. Osbourne was served with copies of two arrest warrants and transported by Sgt. Monica Salazar to the detention center.
Det. Matt Lyon served his search warrant and began his search of the apartment at about 8 a.m. In the dining room, he found several plastic bags and three syringes in a container. One of the bags contained .4 grams of a crystal rock-type substance which was identified as methamphetamines. A plastic straw with a white powdery substance on it was also located as well as a pipe with black burnt residue which Lyon said looked and smelled like burnt marijuana.
Upstairs, Lyon located a jar with a white waxy substance in it which was later shown to contain cocaine as well as a can under the pillow on the bed in the master bedroom which had a straw inside with a white powdery substance on it. A glass methamphetamine skull pipe was located in the bathroom.
Lyon’s report noted that as he searched through the residence, he noted several safety concerns for children or people living there. He said the kitchen had papers stacked on the stove, the sink had dishes piled up, the floor in every room had clothes and clutter which made it hard to walk through them.
An LAPD CI also conducted drug purchases with Osbourne in the weeks prior to Operation Spring Cleaning. On a video of one of the transactions, a police report indicates that Osbourne is seen with a smoking methamphetamine pipe while she sits on a couch in the living room and pouring methamphetamine into a bag in the kitchen to give to the CI. The report also states that her children are seen moving throughout the residence as well.
Sgt. Tim Lonz led a team to Houle’s residence at Verde Ridge. He was accompanied by Cpl. Eric Wilhoit, three NMSP officers, a DEA agent, and a USDEA K9. Houle was on a couch in the living room. Wilhoit placed him in handcuffs and searched him. He was served a copy of the warrant and transported to the detention center. A search conducted by Wolking produced a prescription pill bottle, a needle, two burn spoons and similar items and a plastic bag containing pills.
Det. Matt Lyon went to Conner’s residence at 945 Ildefonso accompanied by Sgt. Christopher Ross, two NMSP officers and two USDEA agents. Lyon knocked on the door and called out to the occupants. After a while, a juvenile unlocked and opened the door. Asked where Conner was, the juvenile said he was in the back room. Police took the juvenile from the residence for his safety and took him to a secured location.
Police continued to call out but there was no response from Conner so they entered the residence and called out to Conner in the master bedroom. When he didn’t answer, they kicked the door open which woke Conner up. He was placed in handcuffs by Lyon and placed in a patrol car by Ross. Lyon explained his Miranda rights to Conner, Conner waived them, and Lyon advised him of the charges against him. Conner allegedly stated, “I sold to a CI.” He was transported to the detention center by Ross and Lyon began photographing and searching the residence.
Lyon found a container with a glass pipe with a black burnt substance inside that smelled and looked like burnt marijuana. Also in the container was a glass container with a black tar substance that looked and smelled like marijuana wax and an e-cig with a glass connector that had the same black tar-like substance. He also found two rubber containers and a plastic bag with a green leafy substance that looked and smelled like marijuana.
On the bed, Lyon found a small netted bag with a small plastic bag inside. Inside the plastic bag was a crystal rock-like substance which was later tested and was found to be 4.6 grams of methamphetamines. In the nightstand, Lyon found several pieces of paraphernalia and drugs. He located four silver-colored spoons with methamphetamines and cotton on them as if they were packaged and ready to be sold or given away. He also found a prescription bottle containing a white powdery substance, two syringes, a glass mirror with methamphetamines and a straw on it, as well as four Diazepam BD pills and four unmarked white pills.
In the closet, Lyon found a large bong with a black tar-like substance on it that looked and smelled like marijuana residue and a case with two syringes in it.
On March 21, Lyon interviewed Conner at the police department and Conner told him he had sold to someone whose name was redacted from the report, and to others in the past. Conner was charged with five counts of trafficking a controlled substance, three counts of possession of a controlled substance, and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Det. Ryan Wolking, Ofc. Natalee Trujillo, Cpl. Robert Larsen, Cpl. Jemuel Montoya, Evidence Technician Anthony Lucero, two NMSP officers, and a USDEA agent went to 3974 Alabama Street. Wolking approached the door and knocked. Mark Morrow opened the door and was ordered out of the house. Wolking called to Marsh to come downstairs and leave the home and that he had a search warrant. Morrow was notified that he was being detained and March was notified that she was under arrest for a warrant for trafficking. Morrow admitted to having marijuana and a pipe in a drawer. Marsh was handcuffed by Trujillo, searched and transported to the detention center.
In the craft room, Wolking located a backpack containing Marsh’s wallet, two small baggies containing methamphetamine, a small marijuana pipe, a hypodermic needle, and a container with various prescription pills including what were later identified as acetaminophen/hydrocodone, Zovirax, Citalopram and Liothyronine. In the same room, Wolking located two pill bottles with Naprosyn and Zovirax pills which he seized because the labels had been removed. He also found a bottle of marijuana-related drops called CannaDropz.
Marsh was charged with one count of trafficking a controlled substance, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, three counts of dangerous drugs, conditions for sale, and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. Morrow was charged with possession of a controlled substance, marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. An LAPD CI had also conducted a drug transaction with Marsh in the weeks prior to Operation Spring Cleaning.
Sgt. Daniel Roberts, Sgt. Monica Salazar, Cpl. Sheldon Simpson, and five NMSP officers went to 945 San Ildefonso Road to execute a search warrant. There were several adults at the home. A USDEA drug dog brought into the residence hit on an area next to a couch and a search of the area revealed a bag with a small red case containing a grinder with methamphetamine and a cardboard tube. Within the tube was a glass pipe with residue, used to smoke methamphetamine and a plastic bag containing a large shard of methamphetamine. A case containing glass pipes with burnt residue was also found as well as another grinder and two scales.
Roberts located a migraine formula bottle containing a large mixture of pills and four other pill bottles. The pills were later counted and found to be 147 pills of 22 different types, many of which were Schedule II, III, or IV.
At the same time as the search was being conducted, Gibbons was arrested at the police department parking lot. She was charged with two counts of dangerous drugs, conditions for sale, three counts of possession of a controlled substance (fourth degree felony), four counts of possession of a controlled substance (misdemeanor), and two counts of possession of paraphernalia.
Henderson was arrested at the Los Alamos Police Department where he has been scheduled to report as usual for his registered sex offender status. Gibbons was arrested in the parking lot as she had driven Henderson to his appointment.
He was charged with three counts of trafficking (methamphetamine twice and morphine once), one count of dangerous drugs and one count of conspiracy to sell dangerous drugs, conditions for sale.