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Local law enforcement launched "intensive" search for suspect

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FARMINGTON — A Farmington man is accused of escaping the custody of the San Juan County Sheriff's Office and leading local law enforcement to launch an "intensive" search on the west side of Farmington Saturday.

Jaden Ortega, 19, is accused of a third-degree felony count of aggravated battery and a fourth-degree felony count of escape from the custody of a police officer, according to court records.

He is accused of battering a man with a bottle and a rock during a house party and escaping a Sheriff's Office patrol vehicle after being arrested for outstanding warrants, according to court documents.

Ortega was not assigned a public defender as of Thursday.

For the battery case, a deputy was notified around 10:31 a.m. on March 9 about a male who was enroute to the Sheriff's Office to report a battery incident.

A female witness spoke to the deputy, stating Ortega attacked the alleged victim at a residence southwest of Farmington during a party.

Ortega allegedly got in a verbal argument with the alleged victim then grabbed a bottle and hit him over the head with it.

A bigger fight in the living room of the residence "broke out" and Ortega allegedly struck the man's head with a rock three times.

Ortega was taken into custody around 11:05 a.m. on March 9 after he was located at the residence where alleged battery occurred on County Road 8500.

After being placed into the back of a patrol vehicle, Ortega allegedly escaped out the window after he slipped his handcuffed hands from behind his back and rolled down the window.

The deputy noted in the probable cause statement the window lock button appeared to "indicate the windows were locked," according to court documents.

An "intensive and extensive search was mounted" involving the Farmington Police Department and their K9 unit, the New Mexico State Police and the Sheriff's Office.

During the search, the deputy lost small bag of suspected marijuana that had been found on Ortega when was taken into custody.

Ortega was detained by Farmington police officers about two hours later at the Safeway grocery store at 730 W. Main St.

He told officers he escaped the vehicle while the investigators were inside the residence.

Ortega stated he ran along the San Juan River toward the bridge on New Mexico Highway 371, where he swam across the river with handcuffed hands.

Ortega was taken to San Juan Regional Medical Center after paramedics requested he be transported for possible hypothermia and low blood sugar.

He was later transported to the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

Ortega was released from the county jail after posting bond. His preliminary hearings are set for the morning of March 21.

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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