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Five charged in Carrizozo burglary
[January 18, 2013]

Five charged in Carrizozo burglary

Jan 17, 2013 (Ruidoso News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Five people have been arrested as a result of a burglary investigation in Carrizozo recently.

Carrizozo Patrol Officer Mike Briseno responded to the reported burglary on Dec. 29 in the 700 block of F Avenue. The victim, who said she was in the process of moving out of the house, initially reported an "Ox-pulled plow" and a laptop computer stolen and some porcelain dolls broken. She later reported the items stolen included a second laptop, a desk top computer with monitor, a wedding ring, two Barbie motorized Jeeps, a motorized Corvette children's car, a gold necklace with cross pendant and 15 Play Station games.

Briseno's search for the stolen items began with a man the victim had hired to clean up the back yard of the burglarized home, James Verdugo, 31. He was to be paid in scrap metal recovered from the yard, according to the victim and the victim said this man's brother, Vince Verdugo, 29, allegedly had the stolen toy cars.

On Jan. 6, Vince Verdugo told Briseno the toy cars were located at a home in the 500 block of B Avenue.

Briseno reported the missing toy cars were in the back yard of the residence and the toy Corvette had been recently painted blue.

Briseno knocked on the door and asked Christina Swift, 31, for permission to search the property for the stolen items. She said "no." Briseno asked the five adults and "several" small children to leave the house and Patrol Office Mike Yaw secured the residence while Briseno obtained a search warrant for the residence.

At 4:48 p.m. Briseno executed the search warrant. He found one of the missing laptop computers in a laundry basket covered with dirty clothes in a bedroom shared by Swift and Justin Weihbrecht, 27. Briseno also found 16 Play Station games in a plastic grocery bag under the bed in the bedroom.

In the middle of this bedroom Briseno found a green backpack. The main compartment of the backpack was locked with a padlock. Darnell Batts, 29, claimed ownership of the backpack but said he did not have the key with him. Briseno told Batts he was taking the backpack as evidence and gave Batts until the following morning to bring the key to the Carrizozo Police Department. Batts did not bring the key to the PD.

Briseno also reported finding in the bedroom a black eyeglass case containing two pipes commonly used to smoke methamphetamine.

In the middle bedroom, which Briseno reported appeared to be a child's room, he found a metal container containing a marijuana smoking pipe and marijuana residue.

During the search, Swift reportedly told Briseno that Vince Verdugo brought the laptop to the house to be repaired and that she thought he also brought the Play Station games also.

On Jan. 3 the victim was at the police department and reported that Vince and James Verdugo's mother had given her a video camera that was stolen, but not reported on the list of items she had given Briseno.

Briseno went to Verdugo's house and reported Vince Verdugo handed him the other stolen laptop computer in a grocery bag.

Briseno arrested Vince Verdugo on two counts of burglary, conspiracy and receiving or disposing of stolen property. Briseno reportedly admitted taking the toy cars but that his brother, James Verdugo had given him permission to take them. According to Vince Verdugo, one of the laptop computers and the Play Station games were on an old mattress in the back yard of the burglarized home and James Verdugo told him he could take them. Vince Verdugo told Briseno the other laptop just appeared on the back porch of his home in the 300 block of Birch Street.

Briseno charged James Verdugo with two counts of burglary, two counts of larceny of more than $500 and receiving stolen property.

On Jan. 3 Briseno and Carrizozo Police Chief Steven Barnett inventoried the contents of the backpack recovered during the search of Swift and Weihbrecht's home the previous day.

Inside, the officers reportedly found numerous documents belonging to Swift and Weihbrecht. It also contained numerous small zip lock baggies, three portable digital scales, a large baggie containing an amount of white powder, which tested positive for methamphetamine, and glass smoking pipes which had burnt residue that also tested positive for methamphetamines.

There was a video surveillance camera, numerous coins and a locked bank bag inside the backpack. Briseno reported he could tell the bag contained a handgun and magazines.

Briseno obtained a search warrant for the bank bag and found a .45 caliber pistol, a magazine loaded with eight live rounds and a black nylon holster. The gun had not been reported stolen.

On Jan. 5, Briseno attempted to locate Batts, since he had claimed ownership of the backpack when it was found during the search. Brineso spoke with Batts on the phone and asked if he still claimed ownership and he said he did. Briseno told Batts the backpack contained a loaded firearm and Batts corrected him stating "the gun was not loaded." Batts also said the backpack contained electronics equipment and coins.

Because the backpack was located in the bedroom shared by Swift and Weihbrecht and claimed by Batts, Briseno sought to charge all three with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. He also charged Batts with being a felon in possession of a firearm because Batts had a felony conviction for vehicle theft in 2004, according to Briseno.

Briseno also charged Swift with child abuse because her two children and four of her sister's children reside in the house in the house where the marijuana was discovered in a child's room.

Batts turned himself in to the Carrizozo Police Department on Jan. 7 and Weihbrecht and Swift turned themselves in to a New Mexico State Police officer Jan. 8.

Swift and Weihbrecht posted bond and were released.

Magistrate Judge Martha Proctor ordered Batts held on a $21,000 cash only bond.

___ (c)2013 the Ruidoso News (Ruidoso, N.M.) Visit the Ruidoso News (Ruidoso, N.M.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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