Updated Oct. 20 at 3 p.m.
A monthslong investigation into drug trafficking in Taos County resulted in the arrest of 57-year-old Ranchos de Taos resident Paul Trujillo on Thursday (Oct. 15), according to Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe.
Trujillo was charged with five counts of trafficking controlled substances and three counts of possession of a firearm by a felon after deputies reportedly discovered a large amount of narcotics and three firearms at his Cuchilla Road residence using a search warrant Thursday.
According to a statement of probable cause, Trujillo cooperated during the search and admitted to selling a variety of drugs, primarily heroin, which he said he had obtained from an unidentified supplier.
After New Mexico State Police assisted in transporting Trujillo to the Taos County jail, the suspected narcotics found in Trujillo's residence were taken to Taos Police Department to be weighed and tested. The results showed that Trujillo had approximately 533 grams of heroin and 10 grams of methamphetamine. According to the statement of probable cause, he also had a variety of fentanyl, oxycodone, temazepam, acetaminophen and hydrocodone prescription pills for sale, along with an unidentified hallucinogen he said his supplier had given him to hand out as samples to his customers.
"I am very glad to see this much heroin (over a pound), meth, fentanyl, and other drugs taken off the streets of Taos County," Hogrefe said on Friday (Oct. 16).
Trujillo has a long list of prior charges, including a 1999 case in which he pleaded no contest to one count of possession of a controlled substance and one count of driving with a suspended or revoked license. In another case, he was convicted of aggravated battery against a household member, a misdemeanor, in 2009.
In 2017, he was charged with one count of shooting at or from a motor vehicle resulting in personal injury, assault with intent to commit a violent felony, aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The charges related to an incident on Este Es Road in which Trujillo allegedly shot at another vehicle occupied by a man who owed him money. A former prosecutor with the 8th Judicial District Attorney's Office dismissed all charges in 2018, however, citing in his motion the lack of a necessary witness.
Hogrefe said the investigation that led to the drug bust was conducted as part of the New Mexico High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area initiative, a DEA-led operation designed to uproot narcotics operations throughout the state. The initiative, more widely known under the acronym HIDTA, operates with multiple law enforcement agencies in 17 New Mexico counties.
In 2018, a HIDTA law enforcement team arrested five people on drug trafficking charges in the areas of Peñasco, Dixon and Cordova.
"Like much of north central New Mexico, Taos County reports its greatest threat is heroin," according to the HIDTA website. "Meth is also a significant threat, and cocaine is present as well. Marijuana appears to be coming in from Colorado, and the county is experiencing issues with cannabis products, such as candy and wax."