Rear-view mirror decorations lead to drug arrest

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Joseph Gonzales was arrested and booked into the jail on multiple warrants and new charges of possession of a dangerous drug, narcotic drug, drug paraphernalia, and driving on a suspended license.

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – Having decorations hanging from the rear-view mirror of a vehicle led to the discovery of meth, heroin, and cash on Friday.

According to a Safford Police report, an officer was on patrol at about 7:25 p.m. when he noticed a vehicle southbound on 8th Avenue with large objects hanging from the rear-view mirror. The officer followed the vehicle and believed the driver, identified as Joseph Leonardo Gonzales, 29, of Safford, to have a current felony warrant for his arrest. Graham County Dispatch later confirmed Gonzales had a warrant out of Pima Justice Court for failure to appear to answer to charges of possession of a weapon by a prohibited possessor, and possession of a narcotic drug and drug paraphernalia, a second warrant regarding failure to appear on a charge of an open container of liquor in a vehicle, and a warrant out of Graham County Superior Court regarding possession of a dangerous drug and drug paraphernalia.  

The officer then initiated a traffic stop in the 2700 block of 12th Avenue. During the stop, the officer contacted Gonzales and his passenger, Robert Sandoval. Upon doing so, the officer noticed a syringe containing a liquid substance and a spoon at Sandoval’s feet as well as a cut straw in the center console. The officer recognized these items as drug paraphernalia.

Sandoval was also found to have a “large wad of cash” that he said he was going to use to purchase a vehicle. As Sandoval was taken into custody, he allegedly told the officer that Gonzales had a bag of drugs in the truck and that Gonzales had thrown the syringe and spoon at his feet.

A search of the vehicle yielded a green canvas bag that contained a small amount of cash, a hypodermic needle, a baggie of methamphetamine, and a baggie of heroin. The officer also located a meth pipe and an orange water pipe (bong) under the driver’s seat. A scale was also located in a duffle bag in the back seat of the truck.

Gonzales allegedly admitted the meth, heroin, and pipes were his but denied throwing anything at Sandoval’s feet.

Gonzales was then arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on his warrants and charges of possession of a dangerous drug, possession of a narcotic drug, possession of drug paraphernalia, and driving on a suspended license.

Sandoval was informed that a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia would be forwarded to the Graham County Attorney’s Office for review and he was released at the scene.