Drug arrest follows tip to BPD hotline; local woman charged

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Belen police are asking for the public's help in reporting suspicious activity in the city limits.

On Monday, police said a tip from the department's hotline, 966-COPS, helped nab a suspect who they believe was selling methamphetamine out of her home on the 500 block of South Second Street.

The woman, Debra Anderson, 56, was arrested on charges of trafficking a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia following a search warrant that was served on Monday morning.

Belen Police Detective Sgt. Joe Portio said police have used confidential informants to buy drugs from Anderson over the last six to seven months.

"It takes a little bit of time to actually get in there and work it," Portio said. "First of all, people that deal in trafficking of a controlled substance are extremely leery. They don't just trust anybody. They only sell to a certain group."

Police were able to charge Anderson with trafficking since police found packaging material and scales in her home as well as $1,272 in mostly small bills.

A stolen .357-caliber handgun was also found in the home. About 1.5 grams of crystal meth was recovered from the residence, the detective said.

"It's more than what is considered personal use," Portio said.

In the last week, Portio said four known felons visited the residence. Anderson was in the process of painting the inside of her home when police arrived.

"She had $725 in small bills in her front pocket," said Belen Police Detective Martin Benavidez. "(That) isn't really normal for a person to walk around with."

Anderson is charged trafficking of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and receiving or transferring stolen property.

She is being held at the Valencia County Detention Center on a $107,000 cash or surety bond.

Benavidez said Anderson will also be issued a nuisance abatement citation by the city's planning and zoning department since police believe she was selling drugs out of her residence.

The police department plans to work with the city's planning and zoning department to issue code enforcement citations as a way to reduce crime.

Portio said residents can do their part by leaving tips and reporting suspicious activity by calling the department's hotline, 966-COPS.

Residents can leave tips anonymously rather than giving police their name. But Portio said if residents are able to cooperate with police and testify as a witness, it speeds up the process.

"Sometimes it takes time to build our case," Portio said. "When we do, it's a positive result."

Portio said the department receives one to two tips a week on the hotline and said he wants to get to the point where residents are leaving a few tips for police every day.

"It is so important that (people) share information with us," Portio said. "Our job is just that more difficult without it."


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.