Photo By Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office: Rogelio Ruiz Portillo, 26, of Tucson, was one of two men apprehended by the Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office transporting roughly three pounds of cocaine through the county toward New Mexico.
Suspicious second vehicle found with small amount of drugs in Graham County
By Jon Johnson
GREENLEE COUNTY – They’ll get you if you are speeding and they’ll get you if you are driving too slow.
A driver traveling at 54 mph in a 65-mph zone on U.S. Highway 70 drew the attention of a Greenlee County deputy Monday, April 29. The deputy then followed the red, 2010 Hyundai Sonata for approximately two miles and reportedly noticed it cross the centerline twice and drive on the white, shoulder line once.
That prompted a traffic stop for moving violations and suspicion of DUI. During the stop, the deputy located roughly three pounds of cocaine and usable amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana, as well as drug paraphernalia and $4,270 in cash.
The driver, Saul Heredia, 34, of Rio Rico, and rear-seat passenger, Rogelio Ruiz Portillo, 26, of Tucson, were both eventually arrested and booked into the Greenlee County Jail on two counts of possession of a narcotic drug, possession of a narcotic drug for sale, transportation of a narcotic drug for sale, possession of a dangerous drug, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and two counts of misconduct involving weapons.
Upon contact, Heredia allegedly told the deputy that he was going to Mimbres, New Mexico for a job. When the deputy looked inside the vehicle, however, he quickly saw what he believed to be meth pipes.
The deputy took Heredia and Portillo into custody and discovered a .40-caliber pistol in Portillo’s waistband. The deputy also located the cash and two baggies of cocaine on Heredia.
Heredia allegedly said he didn’t know why Portillo had a gun and that they had just come from the Apache Gold Casino, where they had lost money.
A further search of the car yielded multiple bundles of cash in one bag, various drug paraphernalia, including a scale and meth pipes, multiple cell phones, three vape pens, a marijuana pipe, and a small amount of heroin and meth.
During the traffic stop, the deputy noticed a green Mustang drive past them slowly and then passed by later in the opposite, westbound direction. Thinking the Mustang might be involved with those already pulled over, the deputy informed the Graham County Sheriff’s Office, which then pulled that vehicle over in Graham County after clocking it going 72 mph in a 65-mph zone.
Greenlee County’s K-9 arrived at the stop and the dog alerted to the presence of drugs. The vehicle, which had a New Mexico license plate, was then searched and two pipes, a small amount of meth, and a 9-mm Luger High-Point handgun loaded with eight bullets.
After being informed that both the driver and his passenger would be arrested for the drugs, the driver, identified as Hector Paez, 22, of Deming, New Mexico, said he would take responsibility for everything in the car. Paez was then arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on charges of possession of a dangerous drug, possession of drug paraphernalia, and misconduct involving weapons. Paez denied having any relation to the Greenlee County traffic stop.
The passenger was released and was given a ride to the McDonald’s in Safford.