Monday's shooting death of Wesley Davis by an agent with the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force was the outcome of the group's latest attempt to fight drug crime in the region.
Davis, 35, of Artesia, was shot and killed by an agent with the task force after he reportedly confronted them as they attempted to serve him with an arrest warrant. Davis, who was staying at the Motel 6 in Carlsbad, had been wanted on outstanding drug-related felony charges.
PVDTF agents arrived at Motel 6 around 11:45 a.m. on Monday. According to a press release put out by the New Mexico State Police, an altercation ensued as the agents attempted to arrest Davis. They gave Davis verbal commands first, and then began firing their guns, the news release said. Davis was struck two times and taken to Carlsbad Medical Center where he later died from his injuries.
Witnesses at Motel 6 said they thought they saw an exchange of gunfire, indicating that Davis may have been shooting at the agents as their guns were pointed at him. However, State Police Sergeant Emmanuel Gutierrez wouldn't say whether Davis was armed, citing the ongoing investigation.
The name of the agent who shot Davis is being kept under wraps as well in an effort to protect the PVDTF agents who work largely under cover to solve crimes.
Because of their undercover work, PVDTF agents to not receive as much credit for their crimefighting endeavors, even though they have had great success in this federally labeled high-intensity drug trafficking area, according to Chief Deputy Mark Cage of the Eddy County Sheriff's Office. Cage also serves as the chairman for the executive board of the PVDTF.
"Local folks around here don't get to see a lot because they're taking dope down before it gets to this community. We would definitely feel the affects of that (if they didn't)," Cage said.
He said the task force has received tremendous support and applause from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
The PVDTF is comprised of four agents from the sheriff's office, one from the Carlsbad Police Department and one from the Artesia Police Department. Monday was the first day on the job for the Artesia agent.
Cage said the Loving Police Department has also recently joined the task force.
The agents' names and faces are kept out of the media to ensure anonymity to criminals, including the drug cartels.
To stop even more drug trafficking crimes in Carlsbad and the surrounding areas, the PVDTF recently decided to shift focus.
The PVDTF plans to boost its visibility by sending teams to locations throughout Eddy County to work hand in hand with patrol officers to get drugs off the streets.
"We're targeting neighborhood dealers a little lower on the food chain," Cage said.
The goal is to raise awareness and spread the message that agents are present all over the county and avidly looking to catch drug users.
Cage said the PVDTF will continue to focus on crimes related to drug trafficking, such as larceny and burglary that Cage said stem from the illegal use of narcotics.
Aside from solving property crimes though, PVDTF agents spend a lot of time in hotels, Cage said.
In the last few months, many arrests have taken place at various hotels and motels around town, such as the arrest that was going on when Davis was shot at Motel 6.
Hotels provide a transient location for drug traffickers where cars come and go, making it easier to keep law enforcement officers off their tails.
"I think people would be shocked at how big of an impact these guys have," Cage said of the PVDTF agents. "We're very proud of these guys. The thing yesterday (Monday) is just an example of the dangers that these guys face on a daily basis. There's always a potential there."