Wanted meth dealer caught after brief police chase

Contributed Photo: Surveillance video still of Eric Lopez tripping right before hitting a street sign while running from police. Lopez was wanted on a guilty conviction in absentia for dealing meth and was found to have more meth on him.

By Jon Johnson

jonjohnsonnews@gmail.com

SAFFORD – A man wanted by police after being convicted in absentia for possession of a dangerous drug for sale was apprehended Monday, Jan. 27, after a brief police chase. 

Eric William Lopez, 46, was arrested on three felony warrants and was booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility. During his arrest, Lopez was found with 5.8 grams of methamphetamine in his possession and a glass meth pipe and was also booked for possession of a dangerous drug and possession of drug paraphernalia. 

Lopez was initially arrested in March 2018 with 13.9 grams of meth. He posted a $5,000 bond and was released pending litigation. However, he failed to show up for his trial and was tried in absentia, with attorney Daisy Flores representing him and Graham County Chief Deputy County Attorney L. Scott Bennett representing the state. 

The jury found Lopez guilty of all charges, including possession of a dangerous drug for sale, possession of a dangerous drug, and possession of drug paraphernalia. 

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Eric William Lopez, 46, was arrested and booked into the jail on his warrants and additional charges of possession of a dangerous drug and possession of drug paraphernalia.

On Monday, Bail Bondsman Bill Daniels had just left the courthouse when he saw Lopez walking in the area. Daniels, who was Lopez’s bail bondsman on the meth case and had put up the $5,000 bond, said he thought Lopez noticed him and hid. 

A Graham County probation officer then reportedly alerted Safford Police about Lopez being in the area, and an officer spotted him outside of the Safford City-Graham County Library.

Gila Herald Video/Surveillance footage of Eric Lopez chase and arrest

As officers gave chase, the action was captured on the library’s surveillance system, which showed Lopez round the corner onto 7th Avenue, where Daniels and another Safford officer were. The officers and a detective joined Daniels in chasing after Lopez, and the chase ended when Lopez tripped and fell into a street sign. He was then taken into custody and transported to the jail. 

Lopez has yet to be sentenced for his guilty verdict and was scheduled to have a status conference Tuesday, in which a sentencing date will be set. According to prosecutors, he faces a sentence of up to 15.25 years in prison. 

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