Sheriff’s office back in task force

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Roosevelt County Sheriff Darren Hooker made good on one of his campaign promises last week as his office participated in a sweep of suspected drug traffickers with the Region V Drug Task Force.

The roundup, which netted the arrest of 22 people on outstanding drug and narcotics charges and an additional six individuals on unrelated charges, was carried out Wednesday and Thursday with officers from the RCSO, state police, Curry County Sheriff’s Office and Clovis Police participating.

“It was our plan to do that (return to participation with the task force), and this was a result of that,” Hooker said.

The RCSO pulled out of the task force, composed of various eastern New Mexico law enforcement agencies, in 2004 under former Sheriff Tom Gossett’s administration.

According to a previous PNT story, Gossett cited lack of communication from the task force and a tight budget as reasons for pulling out.

During the campaign, Hooker said it would be his priority to get back into the group. He has previously told the PNT that while one officer must be dedicated to that commitment as a drug officer, the state picks up that officer’s salary.
Hooker said that he had hired Shawn Gore for that position. Gore had worked for the RCSO previously in that post but left in 2003 for the Clovis Police Department.

“The reason Region V Task Force is such a benefit is because it brings other resources to bear that my department doesn’t have,” Hooker said, noting vehicles, equipment and personnel as some of those resources.

Hooker said the recent arrests were related to a federal drug sweep in the area last year. He said it basically cleaned up a lot of those outstanding arrest warrants. He said no search warrants were served during the operation.

He characterized most of those arrested as mostly small dealers and not necessarily connected. The charges varied from distribution of marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine to simple possession. Additional arrests are pending, an RCSO news release said.

The operation utilized two teams of seven to eight officers. Five members of the RCSO participated, according to Hooker.