Felon pleads guilty to crimes in county jail

By John Miller
jmiller@taosnews.com
Posted 8/23/19

Rafael Orozco, a Taos man with three prior felony convictions, pleaded guilty on Monday (Aug. 19) to receiving a package of Suboxone strips inside the Taos County jail and deliberately setting off a …

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Felon pleads guilty to crimes in county jail

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Rafael Orozco, a Taos man with three prior felony convictions, pleaded guilty on Monday (Aug. 19) to receiving a package of Suboxone strips inside the Taos County jail and deliberately setting off a fire alarm in his cell, resolving one of three cases accusing him of committing crimes as a detainee.

A remaining petty misdemeanor charge of criminal damage to property over $1,000 was dismissed as part of the agreement, leaving the two charges in Monday’s plea, which are both misdemeanors. After the case was originally filed, the state revised the criminal complaint to exclude a charge of bringing contraband into a jail, a fourth-degree felony.

Law enforcement alleged that Orozco received the Suboxone – a drug used to help opioid addicts withdraw – from visitors at the jail in January 2017. After a sergeant who was visiting the jail found the package under the defendant’s shoe, Orozco returned to his cell and triggered a fire alarm sprinkler system.

While Monday’s convictions carry approximately two years of jail time, Orozco has spent so much time in and out of the county jail over the last few years on three pending cases that his final sentence comes down to just nine days in jail.

That doesn’t mean he will be let out at the end of that sentence, however, as Orozco’s remaining cases – all alleging violent felonies – should keep him locked up, barring a judge’s decision to grant his release.

That’s what happened in the summer of 2018, when Sarah Backus, a former district court judge who retired earlier this year, granted a motion to release Orozco from custody in a case alleging he battered his wife, newborn baby and a hospital worker at Holy Cross Hospital in 2016.

According to court records, Orozco was arrested less than a month after his 2018 release outside the Walmart in Española, where he was accused of pointing a handgun at people and having empty beer bottles inside his vehicle. That case was filed in magistrate court in Río Arriba County but was later dismissed.

Since he was reincarcerated at the county jail, Orozco has also been charged with assaulting a female jailer with his brother, Cristian Orozco, and battering another detainee so badly he had to be transported to Holy Cross for medical treatment.

Orozco was convicted of battery upon a peace officer in 2013; two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2015; and one count of receiving a stolen firearm in a separate case resolved in 2015.

Future court appearances for Orozco had not been set in his pending cases, or in the Holy Cross case, as of press time.

felon, Taos County

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