Arrested officer placed on administrative leave following investigation

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FARMINGTON — A New Mexico State Police officer has been arrested on federal drug charges for allegedly stealing drugs seized during arrests and giving them to women he was interested in.

Daniel Capehart, 33, of Bloomfield, was arrested on June 29 and is accused of distribution of marijuana and distribution of methamphetamine, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

Capehart was placed on administrative leave after he was arrested at the state police Farmington office. He did not have an attorney listed in court records.

He is accused of stealing drugs and giving them to women he was pursuing romantically or he had sexual relationships with, according to the press release.

“The State Police is fully cooperating with the FBI in their investigation and we look forward to justice being served,” New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said in the press release.

The Farmington office of the FBI, the San Juan County Sheriff's Office, the New Mexico State Police and the Region II Narcotics Task Force handled the investigation.

“The vast majority of law enforcement officers fulfill their duty with integrity and honor,” said San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen in the press release. “The small fraction that does not will not be tolerated in San Juan County or the state of New Mexico.”

The investigation was launched on June 19 when the San Juan County Sheriff's Office was notified of a 16-year-old female who was allegedly receiving flirtatious text messages from Capehart after a June 15 traffic stop of a vehicle she was the passenger in, according to the complaint.

The juvenile handed over the cell phone to a detective for the sheriff's office, who kept communicating with Capehart posing as the juvenile.

Capehart allegedly set up two deliveries of marijuana on June 21 and 23, sharing instructions on how to retrieve and how to avoid getting caught with the drugs, according to the criminal complaint.

A translucent container which had a green, leafy substance was found near an electrical box in Farmington on June 21. The substances had a positive result for the presence of marijuana.

The complaint states Capehart allegedly sent photos of the container to the cell phone and the detective recognized the packaging as consistent with how the Farmington office of the New Mexico State Police handles marijuana.

The second alleged marijuana delivery was found on June 23 at a Farmington car wash at 330 E. 20th Street.

As part of the investigation, a confidential source told a FBI special agent on June 28 they had been in communication with Capehart since they were arrested for driving-related charges about nine months earlier.

The source was allegedly receiving "weird" text messages from Capehart including suggestive text messages indicating he sought to have sex.

A FBI special agent took possession of the cell phone and posed as the source.

Communication led to an operation on June 29 where the source and an undercover officer posing as a drug dealer would carry 24 grams of meth as they traveled to Sunray Park and Casino, according to the complaint.

Capehart allegedly executed a traffic stop on the undercover officer's vehicle, arrested the officer and took possession of the meth.

The suspect allegedly booked the undercover officer at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center then traveled to Salmon Park, near the intersection of Larch and Sixth Street in Bloomfield.

Capehart allegedly left 5.7 grams of a crystal substance in a gum container near the bathrooms at Salmon Park. The substance later tested positive for the presence of meth.

During an interview following his arrest, Capehart admitted to the two marijuana deliveries and the meth delivery, according to the complaint.

Capehart made his first appearance this morning in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge B. Paul Briones in Farmington. He remains in custody with a preliminary and detention hearing scheduled for Thursday in Albuquerque federal court.

If convicted, Capehart could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the marijuana charge and a maximum sentence of 20 years for the meth charge.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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