Former N.M. State Police officer gets 7 years in prison for distribution of cannabis, meth

John R. Moses
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — A Bloomfield man who resigned from the New Mexico State Police force after his arrest in 2018 on charges of distributing illegal drugs was sentenced June 7 to seven years in prison during a hearing in federal court.

Daniel Capehart, 37, was convicted by a federal jury last July on three counts of distributing the drugs. On top of the seven years, Capehart faces eight years of supervised release when he gets out of prison, said United States Attorney's Office District of New Mexico spokesman Scott Howell.

Howell said that the sentencing proceedings took place before Judge William P. Johnson in the Cimarron Courtroom of the U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.

Records of the hearing were not uploaded to the PACER legal document system by the morning of June 8.

Howell said the office did not yet know where Capehart will serve his sentence but would seek that information.

Prosecutors said in a news release last year that Capehart faced "a mandatory minimum of 5 years and up to 40 years in prison on the methamphetamine count."

At the time of his arrest Capehart was working as a patrol officer assigned to patrol county land and the City of Farmington.

Prosecutors noted last year, after Capehart's conviction, that two of the crimes happened in Farmington in a location that was within 1,000 feet of Farmington High School and Brookside Park playground.  

Another drug drop happened at a park near a school in Bloomfield. That one involved methamphetamine and was intended for Capehart's confidential informant, who was actually working with investigators to catch Capehart in the act of delivering stolen drugs.

Previous coverage:Former state cop Daniel Capehart convicted by jury of three federal drug charges

He didn't know who he was texting

Evidence against Capehart was supplied, in part, by the defendant. 

Local and federal law enforcement agencies worked together after a 16-year-old girl told authorities that Capehart contacted her after a traffic stop and began texting her.

"On June 19, 2018, Jane Doe 1 reported the incident and text messages to the San Juan County Sheriff's Office," a 2021 news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office stated. "Law enforcement immediately launched an investigation into Capehart's conduct. As part of this investigation, Jane Doe 1 allowed law enforcement to use her phone and pretend to be her in further communications with Capehart."

After that, things moved quickly.

Daniel Capehart

A day later Capehart contacted an undercover officer who was posing as the underage girl and offered her cannabis in exchange for selfies, the news release stated. A series of drug drops were arranged.

'Confidential source' helps set up a sting

On a separate track, investigators used the phone of what police called in a court document a "confidential human source" to draw Capehart out for another drug drop.

Capehart had been texting the woman for nine months – after he arrested her and her passenger during a traffic stop. "The CHS stated that Capehart's text messages were 'weird' and made the CHS uncomfortable due to the messages' sexual tone," a July 2018 criminal complaint stated.

Again, text messages were exchanged, but Capehart was actually sending his messages to an undercover agent.

"As part of the (confidential source's) cooperation, she allowed law enforcement to use her phone to pretend to be the CS when communicating with Capehart," a federal 2021 news release stated. "In those messages, Capehart devised a plan in which the CS would tell him when she was driving with someone who had methamphetamine."

The July 2018 criminal complaint which was heavily cited by the U.S. Attorney's office in its 2018 news release. alleged that on June 28, 2018, an FBI special agent posing as the confidential source texted Capehart and asked if he could "make me happy or vice versa."

"Capehart allegedly responded 'if you know someone I can bust tomorrow then it makes my job easy. Whatever I get I just split it,'" the 2018 news release stated. "After the FBI Special Agent sent text messages to Capehart setting up a sting, the investigators put a plan into place to have an undercover officer, posing as a methamphetamine dealer and carrying 24 grams of methamphetamine," accompany the woman to a casino in Farmington.

The theft plan was executed on June 28, when Capehart stopped and arrested a meth suspect who was actually the undercover agent and booked the 'suspect' into county jail, the 2021 release said. Early the next morning, according to court documents, he made good on his promise to his confidential source and headed to a park in Bloomfield.

"Capehart then delivered more than five grams of methamphetamine by bathrooms in the park, which was also located within 1,000 feet of Central Primary Elementary School," prosecutors stated in the 2021 release.

Capehart was arrested that day at the state police office in Farmington.

The agencies who made the case were the FBI, the San Juan County Sheriff's Office, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Region II Narcotics Task Force and the Farmington Police Department.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Mexico prosecuted the case as part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation, the June 8 news release stated.

This story will be updated if new details are released.

Contact John R. Moses at 505-564-4624, or via email at jmoses@daily-times.com.

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