Criminal Justice News

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mission Success: Operation Desert Snow is Complete

New Mexico - The Marshals Service has been diligently working with state and local law enforcement officers to arrest violent fugitives in all 33 counties in New Mexico. Operation Desert Snow has five phases which have been implemented throughout the entire state of New Mexico. The operation is building partnerships between state, county, local and tribal agencies in order to develop an emergency response strategy throughout the entire state. During this operation over 40 Law enforcement agencies participated and together made Operation Desert Snow a Success.

Phase I began in the Farmington, New Mexico Four-Corners Area which extends to the Arizona border and encompasses the Navajo Nation. From December 12-13, 2014 the Marshals Service and several of its law enforcement partners began serving warrants in this region. During the two-day operation, law enforcement officers endeavored to serve more than 60 warrants. They were successful in arresting 22 fugitives. All of these fugitive cases targeted violent fugitives.

Phase II of the operation continued February 20-21, 2015, in the Southwest corner of the state, which includes Luna County, Sierra County, Dona Ana County, Otero County and Lincoln County. The Marshals Service and combined local law enforcement task force members endeavored to serve over 100 warrants. They were successful in arresting 24 violent fugitives and clearing 33 warrants in this two- day operation.

Phase III was conducted on June 5 -6, 2015, and focused on 6 counties in the southeastern part of New Mexico, which included Chaves, Eddy, Curry, Lea, Lincoln and Roosevelt counties. This operation cleared a total of 111 warrants and a total of 60 arrests were made, ranging from drug trafficking to aggravated assault.

Phase IV On, June 26th -27th Operation Desert Snow was conducted in the Albuquerque Metro area and included participants in Bernalillo County, Valencia County, Sandoval County and Torrance County. During the two day operation 37 fugitives were arrested, 1 missing person was located and 70 warrants were cleared.

Phase V On August 20th – 21st the final phase of Operation Desert Snow was conducted in North Eastern New Mexico. Twenty law enforcement agencies participated with a total of 70 Law Enforcement Officers from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, Santa Fe Police Department, San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, Las Vegas Police Department, Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office, Espanola Police Department, Taos County Sheriff’s Office, Taos Police Department, Colfax County Sheriff’s Office, Union County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico State Police, New Mexico Department of Corrections Probation and Parole, NM DOC Security Threat Intelligence Unit, New Mexico High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), United States Forest Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security Investigations, and the United States Marshals Service. During the operation 42 fugitives were arrested, 48 warrants were cleared and law enforcement seized two vehicles.

Significant Arrests for Phase V of Operation Desert Snow:

Assaults/ Battery – 5
Burglary – 1
Probation Violation – 20
Robbery – 1
Trafficking /drugs/ Narcotics – 4
Weapons – 1
Other arrests include; fraud, forgery, Aggravated DUI’s, failure to appear in court, and Criminal Exploitation of a Minor.

During the Operation a team consisting of the U.S. Marshals, Las Vegas Police Department, San Miguel County Sheriff's Office, New Mexico State Police, NM DOC Security Threat Intelligence Unit responded to information that Melissa Gallegos a fugitive from justice was currently at a location in Las Vegas, NM. The team quickly responded to the information and was able to locate and apprehend Melissa Gallegos on an outstanding warrant for Criminal Sexual Exploitation of a Minor with a $50,000 bond.

In addition, During the Operation the Team consisting of Deputy US Marshals, Taos County Sheriff Deputies, New Mexico State Police and acting on information received from the Taos Police Department were able to Locate and Apprehend Raymond Leon. Information provided to Investigators was that Leon had fled to Angel Fire. Investigators were able to identify and locate Leon who was arrested on the outstanding warrant for Aggravated battery on a household member with a deadly weapon.
Since the beginning of Operation Desert Snow there has been 416 arrest/warrants cleared. United States Marshal for the District of New Mexico Conrad E. Candelaria said ““The term “mission success” does not articulate the level accomplishment that was spearheaded and achieved by members of the USMS for the District of New Mexico. Communities are safer because many dangerous and violent fugitives that have absconded justice are arrested and detained and can no longer victimize innocent citizens. The achievements will have resounding success because of the partnerships that have been further solidified with all law enforcement agencies throughout many jurisdictions for which this mission could not have been accomplished without their partnership”.

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