LOS LUNAS — A correctional officer at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Los Lunas was arrested and charged with bringing contraband into a prison, a fourth-degree felony.

Manuel Romero

Manuel Romero

Arrested, charged

Yesterday afternoon, Wednesday, Sept. 6, prison officials contacted New Mexico State Police to investigate allegations of narcotics being distributed inside the facility by a correctional officer.

CNMCF personnel contacted state police after they discovered correctional officer Manuel Romero, 21, of Belen, had been spotted on surveillance with an inmate inside his cell and giving him an item.

The inmate was later discovered in his cell, suffering from a narcotics overdose. Correctional officers located narcotics in the inmate’s cell and he was medically treated for the overdose.

When Romero was questioned about his involvement with the inmate, it was discovered Romero had his personal cell phone with him while inside the facility, which is a violation of policy. The cell phone contained text messages indicating Romero was distributing narcotics inside the prison.

NMSP agents responded and interviewed Romero about the allegations. State police said Romero admitted he was paid to bring narcotics into the facility at least three times and distributed them to an inmate. Romero also admitted to giving the inmate the narcotics, which led to the inmate’s overdose.

“The actions by this correctional officer are disgraceful and totally reprehensible, and in no way reflect the character and professionalism of our correctional staff who work in dangerous situations every day to keep all New Mexicans safe,” said David Jablonski, cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Department of Corrections. “We have zero tolerance for anyone smuggling drugs or other contraband into our facilities and we will ensure this individual is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Romero was booked into the Valencia County Detention Center yesterday and released that same day on a $1,000 unsecured bond.

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