Editorial

Things to watch in 2019: Jail upheaval

Taos News editorial team
Posted 1/11/19

The Taos County Adult Detention Center underwent significant upheaval in 2018 after evidence emerged to suggest some of its staff members were helping operate a drug trafficking network within the …

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Editorial

Things to watch in 2019: Jail upheaval

Posted

The Taos County Adult Detention Center underwent significant upheaval in 2018 after evidence emerged to suggest some of its staff members were helping operate a drug trafficking network within the facility.

Following a series of fatal overdoses among detainees over the past several years, the county launched an internal investigation that resulted in the arrest of two jail employees, Dominic Tórrez and Phillip Ortiz. They were charged with delivering illegal narcotics, including heroin, to detainees at the jail.

While those cases have been dismissed pending grand jury indictments, the investigation into the alleged drug trafficking scheme is ongoing. The county remains quiet on details and faces a lawsuit related to one detainee’s overdose death.

The family of the detainee, Jonathan Bourg, who died of a heroin overdose in 2016, also filed a lawsuit in 2018 against the Taos County Board of Commissioners. The suit is still pending, with Bourg’s family alleging the county failed to stop the flow of dangerous drugs into the facility.

Several employees have been removed so far during the investigation, including Nelson Abeyta, the jail’s director since 2016. In his place, the county appointed Lt. Paul A. Maestas, who continues to oversee the facility into the new year on an interim basis. County manager Leandro Córdova said the county will soon post a job description for the full-time position, one that will no doubt carry the charge of rebuilding staff and policy at the jail.

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