Pima P.D. drug dog helps Safford Police bust alleged meth dealer

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Michael Rivera, 39, was arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on multiple drug charges after officers located a large amount of methamphetamine in the vehicle he was driving.

Total of 46.4 grams (including packaging) seized

By Jon Johnson


SAFFORD – A dark-colored license plate, keen-eyed officer, and a little help from a trained canine led to the arrest of Michael Herbert Rivera, 39, on multiple drug charges after officers located 46.4 grams of methamphetamine (including packaging) in his possession.

Rivera was arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on Feb. 29 on charges of possession of a dangerous (methamphetamine) drug, possession of a dangerous (methamphetamine) drug for sale, transportation of a dangerous (methamphetamine) drug for sale, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Additionally, possible DUI charges are pending lab test results of a sample of Rivera’s blood.

According to a Safford Police report, an officer was northbound on 8th Avenue at about 3:30 p.m. when he noticed what turned out to be a 2013 Nissan Altima southbound that had a dark-colored cover on its license plate.

The officer turned around and initiated a traffic stop on the Altima for the moving violation and came upon the single occupant, Rivera. Upon contact, the officer also noticed a butane torch commonly used to smoke methamphetamine.

The officer noted that Rivera’s driver’s license information listed his residence in Bisbee, yet Rivera said he currently lived in the Clifton/Morenci area and was in Safford looking for work because he was recently laid off from his employment. After identifying various clues that Rivera appeared to be under the influence of drugs, the officer called for a drug-sniffing canine to respond and “Rosie” from Pima and her Pima Police officer handler soon arrived.

While waiting for Rosie to examine the vehicle, the Safford officer spied what appeared to be a digital scale in the vehicle and a torn piece of plastic, both which could be indications of illegal drug use. The officer also noted that a large wad of cash ($517) was located in Rivera’s pocket.

After Rosie gave a positive hit at the driver’s side, the officer noticed a piece of a plastic baggie sticking out from the center console. The officer removed the molding from the console and removed a plastic bag that contained five other plastic baggies with large chunks of what appeared to be methamphetamine. The meth was tested and confirmed and weighed at 46.4 grams, including the plastic baggies, worth about $3,500 on the street if sold a gram at a time.

A continued search of the vehicle also yielded an additional scale, and two glass pipes (one with meth residue and one with marijuana residue).

Prior to being taken to jail, Rivera was given a field sobriety test, which he failed, and his blood was taken for DUI testing purposes after the officer received a warrant to do so. The Altima was removed from the scene by Nuttall’s Towing and impounded.