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Las Cruces Teacher Arrested On Drug Trafficking Charges

A Las Cruces elementary schoolteacher was arrested on suspicion of trafficking cocaine just before classes were to begin Thursday morning, authorities said.

Roberto Varela, 35, was arrested at 7:30 a.m. Thursday in the parking lot of Loma Heights Elementary

Superintendent Stan Rounds said that at this time, there is no indication that there was any inappropriate or illegal activity that took place on school grounds.

“We are communicating today with all the parents at Loma Heights and assuring them that their children are safe,” Rounds said. “It is alleged that any illegal activity took place away from school.”

Rounds said he has taken immediate personnel action with regard to the teacher. However, the specific details are confidential.

“This is a very unfortunate incident and our school staff is pulling together to help any child who may be confused or needs assistance,” Principal Rudy Leos said In a statement issued by Las Cruces Public Schools. “Today, and after the holiday weekend, our school social worker is available for any student who wants to speak with her.”

Varela has been a teacher at Loma Heights since August 2010, and has been employed with LCPS since October 2009.

The arrest came after a monthlong investigation by the Doa Ana County Sheriff’s Office, a spokeswoman said. Deputies with Metro Narcotics said Varela’s arrest was part of a sting operation in the 1600 block of Rio Grande.

According to a county warrant, Varela was arrested for possession of cocaine with intent to traffic. He was booked into the Doa Ana County Detention Center. His bond was set at $10,000.

Officials said a Loma Heights educational assistant was placed in the teacher’s classroom today. There is no school tomorrow due to the Veterans Day holiday. Rounds added that additional counselors within the district can also lend assistance at Loma Heights, if necessary.

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