A traffic stop last week by a Lea County Sheriff’s deputy turned into a drug bust of more than $28,000.
In a release by the Lea County Drug Task Force, on Thursday, Jan. 17 a sheriff’s deputy pulled over a vehicle on NM Highway 18 for a suspension of registration. The stop ended with the arrest of Rafael Medina III, 29, of Hobbs. Medina was found trying to dispose of a toiletry bag containing 9.6 ounces of methamphetamine, 1.5 ounces of marijuana and .8 ounces of dimethyl sulfone, a common cutting agent for narcotics. The Lea County Drug Task Force stated the methamphetamine had a total street value of $27,200.00. The marijuana had a street value of $1,050.00.
Drug Task Force Commander Sean Roach said Medina was arrested and remains detained in the Lea County Detention Center in Lovington.
His charges were trafficking a controlled substance, his second offense and a first-degree felony punishable by up to 18 years in prison; tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison; resisting, evading obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year; vehicle to be registered, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison; driving while license suspended or revoked, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison; possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison; distribution of a controlled substance to wit marijuana, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison; receiving stolen property, a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a probation violation.
According to the release, on the night of the incident, the deputy was conducting a routine patrol on NM Highway 18. The deputy initiated a vehicle registration check on a Silver Ford Explorer. The deputy noticed as he passed the Explorer that the driver, later identified at Medina, was wearing a black shirt.
Once the deputy passed, the registration returned showing the it was suspended in July of 2018, and at that moment, the Explorer pulled over. The deputy made a U-turn, turned on his emergency lights and pulled behind to Explorer to initiate a traffic stop. Once the deputy stopped, the Exploer drove away, but with a female driver. The release stated Medina was not visible by the deputy.
The female eventually pulled over the Explorer and deputies ordered her out of the car. The deputies observed movement in the backseat of the car, which they believed it to be Medina. The female driver, Laura Queen, 26, from Hobbs, exited the vehicle and was placed into handcuffs.
While handcuffing Queen, Medina exited the vehicle and began running away from the scene. Deputies and a Hobbs Police Department Officer pursued Medina on foot. While in pursuit, the officers observed Medina reach into his front waist band and threw out a black toiletry bag. Shortly afterward, Medina surrendered.
Deputies searched the area and found the black toiletry bag containing the drugs.
At that time the Lea County Drug Task Force was contacted to assist with the investigation.
The vehicle was towed to the Lea County Sheriff’s Office in Lovington and stored pending a search warrant. The search warrant was granted and signed by a Lea County District Court Judge. Upon executing the search warrant Deputies and Task Force agents located six rounds of ammunition and a revolver in the back seat where Medina was laying during the traffic stop. Also located during the search was 12 rounds of ammunition, a glass pipe, $3355.00 in US Currency. A records check on the revolver revealed it was a stolen firearm from an investigation with Hobbs Police Department.
Roach said Queen was arrested on non-related charges.