A New Mexico State Police officer is accused of stealing marijuana and methamphetamine seized during arrests, then trying to share the narcotics with romantic interests, a criminal complaint states.
NMSP Officer Daniel Capehart, of Bloomfield, New Mexico, was assigned to patrol duty in Farmington and San Juan County, New Mexico, when he was arrested by the FBI and put on administrative leave, state officials said. Capehart made his first appearance in federal court in Farmington last week. He faced U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Briones on a criminal complaint charging him with distribution of marijuana and methamphetamine.
The criminal complaint states Capehart abused his position as a law enforcement officer by stealing quantities of drugs seized during arrests and giving the drugs to women who interested him romantically or sexually.
“As guardians of our communities, police officers have solemn trust and responsibility to uphold the law. Any suggestion that an officer has breached that trust demands prompt action,” said U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson.
Capehart is accused of initiating a “flirtatious text relationship” with a 16-year-old female passenger in a vehicle he pulled over on June 15, 2018, state officials said. Capehart allegedly agreed to dismiss the driver’s citations, then allegedly sent a number of text messages to the 16-year-old to set up two deliveries of marijuana to the minor on June 21st and 23rd.
The criminal complaint states Capehart was unaware the 16-year-old girl had turned over her cell phone to an investigator and Capehart was actually communicating with the investigators when discussing the marijuana deliveries. “Investigators conducted surveillance as Capehart allegedly left the marijuana at the designated drop locations as discussed in the text messages, and collected the marijuana after Capehart departed from the areas,” the criminal complaint states.
Additionally, Capehart is accused of initating a text conversation with a woman who claimed to be a methamphetamine user. Capehart allegedly met the woman during a traffic stop. The woman told investigators Capehart had been texting her for nine months and turned her phone over to the FBI. An FBI Special Agent posing as the woman then initiated a conversation with Capehart, asking him if he could “make her happy.” Capehart allegedly told the undercover agent, “If you know someone I can bust tomorrow, then it makes my job easy. Whatever I get I just split it.”
The FBI then set up an undercover sting with an undercover agent posing as a methamphetamine dealer and carrying 24 grams of methamphetamine to the SunRay Casino in Farmington. The undercover agent and the woman from the traffic stop met with Capehart the night of June 28th. While the undercover officer and the woman were driving to the casino, Capehart allegedly executed a traffic stop. Capehart then arrested the undercover officer and seized the methamphetamine, court documents state.
In subsequent text messaging, Capehart allegedly told the FBI Special Agent, who he believed to be the woman, that he would arrange for her to have her share of the methamphetamine after he booked the imposter drug dealer.
On June 29th, investigators conducted surveillance as Capehart allegedly drove from the San Juan County Detention Center to a park in Bloomfield and walked into and out of the bathroom area. Capehart left the area and investigators went into the bathroom area, where they allegedly found approximately 5.7 grams of methamphetamine.
The description and location of the container were consistent with information Capehart allegedly previously sent to the FBI Special Agent, a criminal complaint states. Investigators arrested Capehart shortly thereafter at the Farmington office of the NMSP.
“The vast majority of law enforcement officers fulfill their duty with integrity and honor. The small fraction that does not will not be tolerated in San Juan County of the State of New Mexico,” said New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas.
Capehart faces a statutory maximum penalty of five years of imprisonment if convicted on the marijuana distribution offenses and a maximum of 20 years if convicted on the methamphetamine distribution offense. Capehart remains in custody and is scheduled to face a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing on July 5th in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M.