APD to sell crack, meth in stings to target users

The Albuquerque Police Department is in the midst of a 10-month reverse drug sting operation where cops will be selling heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and methamphetamines to people and then arresting them on drug charges. The department is engaged in a “Reversal Operation” whereby narcotics officers will be taking up to two pounds of drugs […]

APD to sell crack, meth in stings to target users

The Albuquerque Police Department is in the midst of a 10-month reverse drug sting operation where cops will be selling heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and methamphetamines to people and then arresting them on drug charges.

Photo Credit: eviloars cc
Photo Credit: eviloars cc

The department is engaged in a “Reversal Operation” whereby narcotics officers will be taking up to two pounds of drugs out of APD’s evidence room and selling it to people on the streets. In addition, APD has asked for, and received, permission from a judge to actually manufacture crack cocaine for the operation.

This piece originally appeared on the ABQ Free Press website.

In so-called “normal” sting operations, police attempt to buy drugs from drug dealers. They arrest the dealers one the buy is made. Reverse stings, where police actually sell drugs, target drug users.

The reverse operation has drawn outrage from at least one critic, the city’s former Chief Public Safety Officer Pete Dinelli. “The practice is dangerous and it should be stopped,” Dinelli told ABQ Free Press. “The cops have no business selling dope. They should be seizing drugs, not putting them into the hands of low-level users.”

But APD spokesman Tanner Tixier said that a bust operation last week under the court order netted eight arrests in the Southeast Heights. After those arrests, calls for service in the area went down substantially, Tixier said. And, Tixier said reverse stings are common and that APD tries to do at least one a month.

The order giving APD the OK to go forward with the operation was signed on Feb. 26 by state District Court Judge Nancy Franchini. It was supported by an affidavit by APD Det. Marc Clingenpeel who said that residents across the city have been complaining about being asked to buy drugs from people on the streets.

“Law enforcement has tried many methods and has been unable to effectively stop the supply of drugs to the street dealers and users in these areas,” the affidavit said. “It is believed that taking enforcement action against the purchasers of drugs in these areas, if well known, would reduce the demand for drugs in the City of Albuquerque.”

The affidavit added that police would use up to eight ounces each of cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and meth as part of the reverse sting operation. “The Albuquerque Police Department’s Narcotics Unit will use the heroin, methamphetamines, crack cocaine and/or cocaine, obtained from the Albuquerque Police Department’s Evidence Unit to sell to individuals who are seeking to purchase drugs within the City of Albuquerque,” the affidavit said.

“Once an individual contacts a detective in an attempt to purchase drugs, the individual will be escorted to a discreet location. The detectives will sell the person the requested amount of drugs, unless the quantity of drugs the person is requesting is larger than is available to the detective. If this occurs, the detective will set up another meeting with the person.”

The affidavit continued: “Once the transaction is completed, the individual purchasing the drugs will be arrested and charged with Felony Possession of a Controlled Substance. The detectives will attempt immediately to retrieve the drugs sold.”

Tixier said that APD does have a license from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to manufacture crack cocaine, but that in 20 years it has never done so. He also said that any drugs used in the operation will be from criminal cases that have ended and where the drugs were scheduled to be destroyed. Any money collected by police from the purchase of the drugs will be tagged into evidence, Tixier said.

The reverse operations are common, Tixier added.

“Without pulling records for exact numbers, our narcotics team tries to do a reversal operation about once a month if possible,” Tixier said. “Also, just for more background, we aren’t required to get an affidavit signed by a judge. We do so as an extra step to make a more robust case. As we spoke about, those drugs are scheduled for destruction.”

Tixier also said that, going back to 1993, APD has never lost any drugs during a reverse sting.

According to the not-for-profit Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, reverse sting operations are common. “The most common technique for sting operations directed at drug dealing in various environments is the reverse sting ‘buy and bust’ (an officer pretends to be a drug dealer and sells to an unsuspecting customer),” the center’s website said.

–Freelance journalist Peter St. Cyr contributed to this story.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

The proposed strategic water supply had a rocky road this legislative session that ultimately resulted in it not making it through even one chamber.…
Bill to end detention of immigrants in New Mexico fails soon after new report on poor conditions

Bill to end detention of immigrants in New Mexico fails soon after new report on poor conditions

A bill to prohibit immigration detention in New Mexico failed a few weeks after an organization issued a report regarding the conditions for a…
Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

House Speaker Javier Martinez said that the Paid Family and Medical Leave will return to next year’s legislative session. SB 3, sponsored by state…
Utility regulators approves PNM’s transportation electrification program

Utility regulators approves PNM’s transportation electrification program

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission unanimously approved a plan from the state’s largest utilities for increasing adoption of electric vehicles this week. The…
Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

The proposed strategic water supply had a rocky road this legislative session that ultimately resulted in it not making it through even one chamber.…
Hearing examiner recommends that PRC reject controversial LNG storage facility

Hearing examiner recommends that PRC reject controversial LNG storage facility

New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Hearing Examiner Anthony Medeiros recommended that the commissioners deny New Mexico Gas Company’s request to build, own and operate…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee discussed a potential constitutional amendment that seeks to limit the governor’s executive powers. The committee approved…
Supreme Court censures attorney over conduct in anti-COVID policy suits

Supreme Court censures attorney over conduct in anti-COVID policy suits

The New Mexico State Supreme Court censured a New Mexico attorney because of her “misconduct” in two unsuccessful cases pushing back on COVID-19 regulations…
Guv outlines some health priorities on state spending

Guv outlines some health priorities on state spending

During her state of the state address on Tuesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham told legislators that one of her legislative priorities is a request…
Referendum on Edgewood’s anti-abortion ordinance moves forward

Referendum on Edgewood’s anti-abortion ordinance moves forward

The town of Edgewood is moving forward with its ballot referendum on its anti-abortion ordinance at a cost of more than $35,000. The town…
2023 Top Stories #1: Anti-abortion efforts go local

2023 Top Stories #1: Anti-abortion efforts go local

Note: Every year, we count down the top ten stories of the year, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court heard oral…
NM Supreme Court to decide if local anti-abortion ordinances are legal

NM Supreme Court to decide if local anti-abortion ordinances are legal

The New Mexico Supreme Court will decide whether anti-abortion ordinances passed by local governments in eastern New Mexico over the last 13 months can…
AGs want FDA guidance on heavy metals for the baby food industry

AGs want FDA guidance on heavy metals for the baby food industry

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez and a coalition of 19 other attorneys general called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue…
Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

House Speaker Javier Martinez said that the Paid Family and Medical Leave will return to next year’s legislative session. SB 3, sponsored by state…
Paid Family Medical Leave bill dies in the final days of the session for a second year in a row

Paid Family Medical Leave bill dies in the final days of the session for a second year in a row

A bill that would have provided paid leave for several weeks died on the House floor when 11 Democrats sided with Republicans to vote…

Bill to require disclosure of use of AI in campaign materials goes to governor

The Senate approved a bill aiming to require the disclosure of the use of artificial intelligence or other changes made by computers to campaign…
House amends, passes bill banning firearms near polling places

House amends, passes bill banning firearms near polling places

The House narrowly approved a bill that would ban firearms near polling places. The House voted 35-34 to pass the bill following an extensive…
Manny Gonzales doesn’t qualify for Senate GOP primary ballot

Manny Gonzales doesn’t qualify for Senate GOP primary ballot

Nella Domenici is the lone Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, after Manny Gonzales III failed to qualify for the ballot. Gonzales did not file…
Utility regulators approves PNM’s transportation electrification program

Utility regulators approves PNM’s transportation electrification program

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission unanimously approved a plan from the state’s largest utilities for increasing adoption of electric vehicles this week. The…
Stansbury talks infrastructure issues at roundtable

Stansbury talks infrastructure issues at roundtable

Democratic U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury discussed infrastructure issues and grants that could help fix those issues during a roundtable discussion at Rio Rancho City…
Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

The proposed strategic water supply had a rocky road this legislative session that ultimately resulted in it not making it through even one chamber.…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report