Pubdate: Sun, 10 Oct 1999
Source: Santa Fe New Mexican (NM)
Copyright: 1999 The Santa Fe New Mexican
Contact:  202 E Marcy, Santa Fe, N.M. 87501
Fax: (505) 986-3040


By BARBARA FERRYand NANCY PLEVIN, The New Mexican - 10/5/1999

Two Chimay men died of apparent drug overdoses this past weekend - and six
other people were brought to the hospital - just days after federal agents
led a massive raid against suspected heroin and cocaine dealers in and
around the village.

The eight were brought to Espanola Hospital between Friday afternoon and
Monday morning, said Dr. Fernando Bayardo, emergency-room director. Two
men, Mike Padilla and Gino Montoya, both of Chimay, were pronounced dead at
the hospital on Saturday, according to police. Autopsies are pending in
both cases.

"That's definitely a high number," Bayardo said. "It's abnormal, even for
us." By comparison, the hospital attended to 11 overdoses in September,
said Antoinette Montano, case manager for the emergency room. The hospital
has begun to keep statistics on overdoses, Montano said, due to concern
that Rio Arriba County's drug-related death rate is nearly three times the
national average.

On Wednesday, 150 local, state and federal police agents descended on six
homes in Chimay and Santa Cruz, arresting 31 people allegedly tied to
trafficking organizations led by Felix Barela, Josefa Gallegos, Jose "Fat
Jose" Martinez and Adriana Santos Mendoza.

New Mexico State Police Capt. Quintin McShan believes the weekend's rash of
overdoses is somehow connected to Wednesday's drug raid.

"Either the person who cuts the dope is in jail and the new guy can't get
it right, or the supplier has changed and they don't know what they are
dealing with, or (the users) are getting drugs of an inferior quality and
are having to shoot up more of it," he said.

There was other evidence of the drug epidemic's persistence: McShan, who
heads the Espanola state police district, said that on Saturday evening
while he was off duty and shopping, a woman standing with a small child in
the parking lot of Wal-Mart in Espanola tried to buy crack cocaine from
him. "I was out of uniform, so how was she to know?" said McShan. McShan
said the woman asked him if he had any "stones," which he said is a slang
word for rocks of crack cocaine. He told her he didn't.

Earlier that day, a man who had been arrested on suspicion of receiving
stolen goods shot up drugs while in the state police station and apparently
overdosed. McShan said although police had searched the man while arresting
him, they somehow missed a hidden loaded syringe. Police brought the man to
Espanola Hospital for treatment. He escaped from the hospital the next day.
"He had either overdosed or he was faking," said McShan, who did not
release the man's name.

Saturday was also the day two men were brought to the hospital dead.
Michael Padilla, 35, was brought to Espanola Hospital by his sister,
according to state police. The woman said she had found her brother lying
unconscious in a yard near his home in Chimay, said agent Joe Schiel.

"She said she dumped water on him but that he was cold and unresponsive,"
Schiel said. Doctors could not revive him. The deputy medical investigator
listed the preliminary cause of death as hypothermia with opiates and
alcohol as contributing factors, according to Schiel.

That evening at about 8 p.m. police tried to stop a speeding car in the
Espanola area. When the driver refused to pull over, police followed him to
the hospital, said state police spokesman Lt. Richard Newman. Riding in the
car was Gino Montoya, 25. Newman said the driver of the car told police he
had found Montoya unconscious. Montoya was pronounced dead at the hospital,
and the death is being treated as an overdose, Newman said.

That same night an ambulance responded to a call at Santa Cruz Lake.
Praxedes Martinez, 32, of Chimay was brought to Espanola Hospital, where he
was revived from an apparent overdose. Santa Fe County deputies arrested
Martinez on an outstanding warrant for resisting and obstructing a police

In the past, police have also noted that drug-related calls go up shortly
after the first of the month, when addicts receive welfare checks in the mail.

Whatever the cause, "There's always unintended consequences to whatever you
do. If you create a vacuum, someone's going to step in to fill it," McShan
said of the raid.

Bayardo of Espanola Hospital said this past weekend's experience "proves to
me we're not going to arrest ourselves out of this problem."

"We all know law enforcement is part of the solution, but we have to
remember it's only part," Bayardo said. "It's just odd that they do this
raid and then we have maybe our worst weekend ever."

Another local doctor who has been calling for a strong response to the drug
problem said patients of his who use heroin have told him that even after
the arrests, they've had no problem buying drugs.

"It definitely got people's attention and let them know that (the police
are) now taking this seriously," said Dr. Murray Ryan of Espanola. "But in
terms of the practical implications in reducing the supply or the number of
overdoses, there hasn't been any effect."

As of Monday evening, three of the 34 people indicted in connection with
Wednesday's drug raid remained fugitives: Corpentino "Corpy" Vigil of the
Martinez family organization, Eduardo Marquez of the Gallegos family and
Miguel "Jesus" Martinez of the group headed by Adrian "El Tejano"

Santana-Mendoza, who was arraigned Monday, was ordered held without bond,
like most of the defendants in the case.

Six of those charged were in state custody in connection with other crimes
at the time of the dawn raid and have not yet been arraigned in the federal
heroin trafficking case.

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