Police see increase in sex offenders accused of failing to register
Two dozen convicted sex offenders were accused of failing to register with law enforcement in San Juan County last year
AZTEC — The number of people facing an arrest warrant for failing to register as a sex offender in San Juan County has increased sharply over the last year and a half, according to figures supplied by the San Juan County Sheriff's Office.
Deputy Mike Rietz of the sex offender registration unit said he has written about 21 warrants for people who are accused of failing to register as a sex offender, a fourth-degree felony, since April.
During an interview Thursday at the sheriff's office main headquarters in Aztec, he said he had written five warrants over the previous week for convicted sex offenders that are accused of failing to register with the law enforcement agency.
There were only 15 warrants issued for failing to register in all of 2015, according to data supplied by the sheriff's office. That number increased to 24 for 2016. This year, as of July 30, 19 warrants had been issued with five months remaining.
According to state law, some sex crime convictions require people to register for the sex offender registry, but their information is not published on online registries.
There were 248 published sex offenders living in San Juan County as of Friday, according to the sheriff's office website.
Across the state, there were 3,173 published sex offenders as of Friday, according to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety website.
Most of those who are registered do comply and follow the law, Rietz said.
When a person required by law to register as a sex offender moves to San Juan County, he or she needs to make an appointment to register at the sheriff's office. That process takes approximately 10 minutes, Rietz said.
Information about where the person lives and works is taken, along with information about their vehicle. Fingerprint and DNA samples could be collected during the registration.
Sex offenders are required to re-register every 90 days at the sheriff's office and notify authorities about any "life changes," including any changes to their living or work situations.
Providing updates to authorities on a change of address is usually what trips up some people, Rietz said.
But he said some sex offenders fail to register because they might be hiding from law enforcement.
Anthony Mihaley, of Kirtland, who recently was accused of distribution and possession of child pornography, consistently has failed to register as sex offender, authorities say.
He was arrested on July 27 by the sheriff's office. That case is pending in district court.
A charge of failure to register as a sex offender (second or subsequent offense), a third-degree felony, also was filed against him in Aztec Magistrate Court on Aug. 17, according to court records.
According to Rietz, Mihaley did not report as required to the sheriff's office within 10 days after he was released from the San Juan County Adult Detention Center on Aug. 4 after posting a $500 cash/surety bond.
"I gave him two weeks, and he never showed up," Rietz said. "I went to his house, and he was still there."
Mihaley was sent back to the detention center after his Aug. 17 arrest and remained there Friday afternoon.
Matthew Cockman, Mihaley's public defender, did not respond to requests for comment.
That was the second failure-to-register charge filed against Mihaley in New Mexico. He previously pleaded guilty to a failure-to-register charge on April 24, according to court documents.
New Mexico is the latest state where Mihaley has faced such a charge after his July 21, 2000, conviction for rape of a child in the third degree in Pacific County, Wash., according to the arrest warrant affidavit.
He also has convictions for failing to register as a sex offender in 2007 in Texas, 2010 in Colorado and Utah in 2012, according to Rietz.
Mihaley had been living in Kirtland for about a year and a half before he appeared on the sheriff's office radar, according to Rietz.
A deputy was dispatched to Mihaley's house on June 16, 2016, on a call unrelated to the sex offender conviction, Rietz said. Mihaley initially gave the deputy a fake name, and when the deputy ran a search on Mihaley's real name, the sex offender conviction was discovered, and he was arrested.
Detective Lt. Kyle Lincoln said Mihaley has been running from state to state and moves when he is charged with failing to register.
Keeping track of registered sex offenders and investigating possible violations takes up a lot of time for Rietz. He relies on tips from fellow law enforcement officers about potential violators.
Both Rietz and Lincoln said they have zero tolerance for those who fail to register.
Lincoln added that residents seeking information on published sex offenders can visit the sheriff's office website at sjcso.com.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.