Police undercover nets drug dealers, bootleggers

WINDOW ROCK

It may not seem like it, but Navajo Nation Police are building cases against drug dealers and bootleggers who are selling their illegal substances on the reservation.

Case in point: On July 1, Navajo Nation Police Chief Phil Francisco said police officers from the Chinle District and Navajo Nation Drug and Gang Taskforce undercover officers made arrests in Chinle, Many Farms and Pinon.

The three-week long undercover investigation led to three separate warrant executions. The first one was suspected bootlegger Marlene Thompson and her daughter, Kathleen Totsoni, who were both arrested at their home, which is located by milepost 461 on Highway 191, about a quarter mile east of Many Farms.

According to Francisco, Thompson allegedly sold two bottles of imported vodka to an undercover agent for $20. The sale and exchange of money was enough to get a search warrant.

As officers arrived to Thompson’s home, police said they saw her standing outside her home next to a blue Ford Fiesta.

Thompson fled back into her home as police pulled into her driveway. Francisco said Thompson locked the door, but officers were able to gain entry into her home where they arrested her.

While police chased Thompson into her home, police outside the house stopped the blue Ford Fiesta belonging to Lewanda Ben, 37.

Francisco said her vehicle was searched and a “large amount of alcoholic beverages” was found inside.

She and her passenger Shawn Begay, 35, were both arrested. Francisco said Ben’s 15-year-old daughter was with her at the time.

Charges against Thompson, Totsoni, Ben and Begay are expected to be filed with the Chinle District Court.

On July 1, police executed a search warrant at the home of Terrilene Haskan, which is located 2 1/2 miles north of Pinon Chapter.

Francisco said the warrant was based off of reports that Corley Haskan, 22, allegedly sold intoxicating beverages and methamphetamine drugs from the residence.

A large amount of meth was found, “equally separated and sealed in small clear ziplock baggies.”

Coren Haskan, 20, was also arrested.

In addition to the drugs that were seized, police also seized a “police scanner, scales, money and firearms with ammunition.”

Charges will be filed through the Dzi? Ijiin District Court, said Francisco.

Alleged drug dealers Deswood and Wayan Whitehair were arrested during a search warrant, at the home of Richard Begay, at the Round Valley Housing in Chinle.

Francisco said three people were arrested, but did not say who the third person was.

Police found a “large amount of marijuana drugs” that were found “prepared for selling, all equally separated and wrapped in aluminum foil.”

Charges will be filed in Chinle District Court.

Francisco said getting some of the drugs and alcohol off the streets is a step in the right direction. He added that alcohol continues to be the main drug that affects the reservation, with marijuana and meth not far behind.

Alcohol is found in 90 percent of his officers’ calls, he said.

“The other drugs are rare. They’re not really prominent. But it’s an exception, alcohol is pretty much the standard,” Francisco said.

 To read the full article, pick up your copy of the Navajo Times at your nearest newsstand Thursday mornings!

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