New Mexico man found guilty on multiple drug charges

Man was found with more than two pounds of meth and an ounce of heroin

By Walt Mares

CLIFTON – It is not at all uncommon for a motorist to be pulled over by the law for traveling beyond the posted speed limit on a roadway. What about when a vehicle is traveling well below that limit? It can result not only in being stopped by a cop but in the case of Rogelio Portillo, it resulted in a prison sentence.

Contributed Photo: Rogelio Portillo

Portillo, 27, of Deming, New Mexico, was found guilty on several charges after his trial in Greenlee County Superior Court. An eight-person jury handed down the verdict on Wednesday, Sept. 25. 

Portillo is being held without bond in the Greenlee County jail. He was found guilty on eight counts, ranging from Class-4 to Class-6 felonies. They involved charges of possession of methamphetamine for sale, possession of heroin, and possession of drug paraphernalia – a pipe with which to smoke meth. He was also found guilty of a weapons violation. 

Greenlee County Superior Court Judge Monica L. Stauffer presided over the trial. Robert Gilliland was the prosecutor on behalf of the state and Josi Lopez was the defense counselor. Portillo is to be sentenced Oct. 15. He was reportedly offered at least two plea agreements but rejected them. 

A particularly interesting aspect of the incident involving the traffic stop, and Portillo’s eventual arrest and conviction, is that the deputy who made the stop initially did so thinking it might be a matter of the vehicle’s driver operating while impaired. It proved to be far, far more than that.

On Aug. 29, around 11 p.m., Greenlee County Sheriff’s Deputy Logan Clonts was patrolling around Milepost 370 on U.S. Highway 70 near Duncan when he observed a vehicle driving at a slow rate of speed. It was clocked at 54 miles per hour where the speed limit is 65. Clonts used his patrol vehicle’s radar to clock the slow-moving vehicle. He also observed that the vehicle was also moving erratically at times.  

The deputy wrote in his report that the vehicle had twice crossed over the yellow line in the center of the roadway. It also crossed over the white line at the side of the road. Clonts then turned on his emergency lights and stopped the vehicle. The vehicle’s driver, Saul Heredia, 34, of Rio Rico, was then asked to exit the vehicle. Clonts placed him in handcuffs, did a pat-down search of him and then placed him in the back seat of the patrol vehicle.  

The deputy saw a man sitting in the back seat of Heredia’s vehicle. It was Portillo. Clonts wrote in his report that via his training and experience he saw what appeared to be “pipes used for smoking illegal substances.” 

Portillo was asked to get out of the vehicle and was also handcuffed. As Clonts performed a pat-down search he felt he what he believed to be a weapon in the Portillo’s waistband. It was a handgun. Clonts then radioed for assistance and other Greenlee deputies soon arrived at the scene. During their search, they discovered roughly two pounds and three ounces of meth, an ounce of heroin, four grams of cocaine, large amounts of cash, and scales that are often used to weigh various quantities of drugs. Heredia’s trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 2 in Greenlee County Superior Court.