Couple caught smoking heroin in Firth Park restroom

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley News: A homeless man was found injured in the Firth Park restroom area, Friday.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Joshua Lee Merino and Donavee Nicole Perea were arrested on drug charges after being caught smoking heroin in the Firth Park men’s restroom.

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – For the second time in a month, a couple has been caught using drugs in the Firth Park restroom.

Joshua Lee Merino, 26, and Donavee Nicole Perea, 22, were arrested July 17 and booked into the Graham County Jail on drug charges. A separate couple was previously located injecting heroin in the men’s restroom on June 16. The Safford City Council has authorized an additional surveillance camera to be placed at the entrance of the restrooms. 

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Joshua Lee Merino

Perea was already on probation for separate cases involving possession of a dangerous drug and possession of a narcotic drug and was kept on a probation hold. The next day, a petition to revoke her probation was filed in Graham County Superior Court. She had just been placed on supervised probation the week prior. 

Merino was questioned regarding an aggravated assault case in which he was a suspect. Officers had been looking for Merino regarding an incident in which a person was allegedly robbed at knifepoint. A blue-handled knife was removed from Merino’s right front pocket during the officer’s interaction with him in the restroom.

Merino was previously jailed in April for second-degree burglary after allegedly entering the garage of a residence on W. 16th Street and stealing the occupant’s 10-speed mountain bike. In that incident, Merino was caught on a home surveillance system and was apprehended later the same day.

Officers were dispatched to the restrooms at about 2:50 p.m. regarding a man and woman acting suspiciously. Upon arrival, an officer located Merino and Perea inside the men’s restroom and witnessed Merino lighting the underside of a piece of aluminum foil as Perea ingested the smoke from the foil through a cut drinking straw. The substance on the foil was later determined to be heroin.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Donavee Perea

An officer also located a folded piece of paper on the restroom floor near Merino that held a usable amount of methamphetamine. Perea said she had just met Merino a few hours prior and that she was smoking heroin when the officer arrived. She added that the heroin and meth both belonged to Merino and that she planned on smoking each drug.

Merino allegedly admitted to possessing the heroin but said the meth wasn’t his and that the last time he used meth was the previous day.