Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald
Suspect wasn’t present
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – After months of surveillance, arrests of associates and undercover drug purchases, a multi-agency police force raided a suspected heroin and meth dealer’s residence May 30, however, the main suspect was not home.
Information culled from various confidential informants over the months led investigators to believe that the owner of the residence at 1312 S. 1st Ave., Manny Rodriguez, led a group of three to five drug dealers who sell heroin and meth to different customers. Witnesses have reported seeing large quantities of the drugs at the residence, including more than a pound of heroin at one time.
Previously, one of the suspected associate dealers, Cassandra Medina, 29, of Thatcher, was arrested May 20 after officers believed they witnessed a late-night drug purchase after Medina had just left the residence. Medina was found in possession of 2.7 grams of methamphetamine and was booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on charges of possession of a dangerous drug, possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting arrest, and DUI-drug. (Gila Herald: Cops bust woman for meth and DUI-drug after witnessing drug buy – May 28, 2019)
Another alleged associate of Rodriguez, Shawn Michael Goodrum Jr., 22, of Pima, was arrested and booked into the jail May 5 on multiple counts of misconduct involving weapons, possession of a narcotic drug, possession of a narcotic drug for sale, possession of a dangerous drug, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft of a credit card, and a warrant out fo the United States District Court for a probation violation. (Gila Herald: Traffic stop nets dealer’s worth of heroin, stolen handgun, stolen credit cards, a cache of firearms and more – May 9, 2019)
In that arrest, an officer recognized Goodrum as he drove by and knew he had a warrant. The ensuing traffic stop netted a cache of firearms (with at least one identified as being stolen), 14.4 grams of heroin, 3.6 grams of methamphetamine, a small amount of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, ammunition, and stolen credit cards.
In addition to the associates’ arrests, officers had received information from confidential sources regarding the alleged drug-dealing habits from Rodriguez at the house and also had an informant make a drug buy to purchase heroin from Rodriguez, according to police reports.
At about 7:30 p.m. on May 30, officers from the Safford and Thatcher police departments and Graham County Sheriff’s Office executed a “no-knock” warrant on the residence. A Safford officer reported that he drove into the backyard of the residence with his lights and siren activated and announced “police, search warrant” over his vehicle’s P.A. system. At that time, a 17-year-old male subject ran out the front door and was detained.
Other subjects located in the residence included two other males, McKenzie Sanders, and Brandon Ferguson, 37, who began to have a seizure which was later deemed by paramedics as being faked.
Rodriguez and his vehicle were not located at the residence, but a search of the home yielded various drug paraphernalia items, a small amount of meth and marijuana, a suspected stolen knife, and a trailer that was listed as being stolen out of Pinal County.
The juvenile showed officers a meth bong and a marijuana pipe that he claimed were his, and a purse belonging to Sanders was found to have a small bag of meth and a syringe. Sanders allegedly admitted the meth and syringes were hers. All of the other subjects denied ownership of the various paraphernalia found at the resident and said they didn’t know who actually lived there or where Rodriguez was.
Ferguson was found with a meth pipe in his pocket and was arrested and booked into the jail at the behest of Graham County Probation because he is currently on probation. The other subjects were informed that the report would be sent to the Graham County Attorney’s Office for review and were released and left the scene.
The trailer was taken back to the Safford Police Department to be returned to Pinal County, and the officer left a copy of the search warrant and a list of the items taken on the kitchen table for Rodriguez.