Man leads police on a high-speed chase in mother’s car

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald

By Jon Johnson

GRAHAM COUNTY – A man fled from police in the middle of the night with no lights on after failing to pull over for a moving violation. 

Police later located the car and discovered a meth pipe and a syringe loaded with apparent methamphetamine in liquid, however, the driver was nowhere to be found. 

Authorities are still on the lookout for the driver, who they identified as James Ray Zozaya, 37, of Safford. 

According to a Graham County Sheriff’s Office report, a deputy attempted to pull over a car for a malfunctioning license plate light as the vehicle drove past him on 8th Avenue near Graham Canal Road at about 3:23 a.m. on April 17. 

The vehicle failed to yield and instead fled from the deputy down Airport Road. After traveling up and down Airport Road and onto various side streets, the pursuit led back to 8th Avenue, where a Safford officer also joined. 

At that time, the suspect turned off all of the lights to the vehicle and ran through a red light at the intersection with U.S. Highway 70. The vehicle then sped eastbound on Main Street at a “high rate of speed” still with the vehicle’s lights off. At that point, both the Safford officer and deputy terminated their pursuits. 

The deputy and others continued to look for the vehicle, however, and it was later discovered parked in the 400 block of E. 7th Street. 

At that time, authorities viewed a meth pipe and syringe in the vehicle and it was towed to the county yard. 

At about 8:07 p.m. that night, the deputy contacted the registered owner of the vehicle, who advised that she discovered her car missing when she woke up that day. 

The owner declined to press charges of theft of means of transportation and said her son was addicted to drugs and needed help overcoming his substance abuse issues. The deputy took the woman to the county yard and released the vehicle to her. 

As of the latest report from the Sheriff’s Office, authorities are still searching for James Zozaya and listed possible violations to include possession of a dangerous drug, possession of drug paraphernalia, and unlawful flight from pursuing law enforcement.