BOSQUE FARMS—The houses are in typical neighborhoods and the drug dealers blend in.

Using information from confidential informants and gathered during undercover buys, the Bosque Farms Police Department has been focusing on shutting down narcotics trafficking houses in the community.

“These search warrants are served on homes in ‘good’ neighborhoods to people who may have a day job. Traffickers are hidden in plain sight. They are in our community, down the road from our schools,” said BFPD Chief Paul Linson. “A recent search warrant was served at a house that was within a few blocks of a day care.”

When the warrants are served, officers recover cash, scales and other paraphernalia, weapons and the narcotics themselves, Linson said.

The department covers not only the village of Bosque Farms but also the town of Peralta. The last three trafficking search warrants BFPD officers have served have been in Peralta.

“All these warrants are based on information from CIs and undercover officers making buys,” he said. “We are actively working cases that will probably lead to search warrants in the near future.”

Not all the warrants are served in Peralta and Bosque Farms, Linson said.

“We make sure we have viable information and it may lead us to narcotics in Valencia County or even Bernalillo County,” the chief said. “We work closely with the Los Lunas Police Department narcotics unit as well as the Albuquerque Police Department and Belen PD. We all work together.”

Working with other agencies allows Bosque Farms to make progress on other crimes, such as receiving stolen property and auto theft.

A majority of those types of crime are committed by people who are addicted to narcotics, the chief said, acknowledging that shutting down trafficking houses and arresting drug users are short-term solutions.

“They are stealing things to get money for their next fix,” he said. “We’re trying to come up with a long-term solution. If you think about it, we’re all trying to do the same thing — get crime out of our community, keep innocent people from being hurt.

“But once we get them out of here, where do they go? It just becomes the next chief’s problem. We’re just pushing the problem around. There’s no real resolution until we can get the funding for the No. 1 solution — treatment. I wish we had the ability to provide that but we don’t.”

When search warrants are executed, Linson said after the initial chaos is done and the location is secure, he will often talk to the people living at the house.

“I always ask if there’s something we can do to help them. Someone we can call, a family member who can help,” he said. “In the years I’ve been in law enforcement — and this is my own estimate — I’d say a good 85 percent of the people I’ve talked to are trafficking to feed their own addiction. Until we have treatment available, it’s not going away.”

In addition to addiction, Linson said he’s seen a lot of women being taken advantage of by traffickers.

“Sometimes they are selling themselves to make money or for their next hit,” he said. “Some of them are being trafficked themselves. There’s a lot of human trafficking — it’s one and the same. If you have one, you have the other.”

The chief said when they find meth, they most frequently find pornography and child pornography.

“It gets to the point you almost know what you’re going to see ahead of time,’ he said.

In his years arresting people for trafficking, Linson said there’s no one type of person to look for.

“I’ve arrested young men and 65-year-old grandmothers. You can’t tell by looking,” he said. “Trafficking happens right in front of you, out in the open, in parking lots. The days of going to a house and making a buy are not as common. It’s in plain sight.”

The CIs the department works with regularly also provide information to the department about other criminal activities, such as auto theft rings, homicides and burglaries, Linson said.

“Some of them are people who happen to associate with people who are committing crimes, possibly a former addict or someone whose sister or cousin uses,” the chief said. “Some are people who want to do the right thing and happen to have information. We always validate any information we’re given. We don’t get search warrants based just on someone’s say so.”

Linson said some CIs are compensated by the department, but have to meet certain criteria, such as not being on probation or parole and not having an extensive criminal history.

“Each jurisdiction handles confidential informants differently,” he said. “If I’m going to move forward with information, I want to make sure this will better their life. I don’t want to possibly re-victimize them.”

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.