LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - According to federal authorities, a former Doña Ana County detention officer is accused of engaging in drug smuggling with six inmates.
Joe Anthony Garcia, 46, worked in the detention center for 17 years, according to the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office. When the county learned of the alleged smuggling in January, officials then notified federal authorities, who took over the investigation. Garcia is no longer an employee of the county.
"When you find out that one person can be implicated in allegations as serious as this, it's shocking," said Kelly Jameson, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office. "But when you learn that it had grown to involve seven people, it was a little disappointing and equally as shocking."
Federal authorities say 25-year-old Ashley Silva (an inmate from Las Cruces) was dating 29-year-old Aaron Reed (an inmate from Grants). In January 2019, Silva allegedly bribed Garcia to "accept drugs from her and deliver them to Reed and other inmates," according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Sullivan.
"To learn that it was an employee just underscored our commitment to cooperate completely with this investigation," Jameson told ABC-7.
Other inmates arrested in the investigation included 34-year-old Jose Ignacio Caro (from Las Cruces) 30-year-old Dominic Garcia (from Las Cruces) 24-year-old Angel Destiny Ortega (from Las Cruces) and 39-year-old Marie Cadney (from Las Cruces).
Federal authorities say the drugs involved included methamphetamine and Subxone, a drug to treat pain and opioid addiction.
Silva is accused of giving the detention center officer "drugs concealed in balloons of different colors" to allegedly identify which inmate would receive which drugs.
The case is investigated by multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Las Cruces branch of the FBI, Las Cruces/Doña Ana County Metro Narcotics, the Doña Ana County Detention Center Department Security Threat Intelligence Unit, and the Las Cruces Police Department.