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New details emerge about ‘violent criminal’ who died in shootout after killing NMSP officer

Omar Felix Cueva, suspected cop killer who died in a police shootout.
Omar Felix Cueva, suspected cop killer who died in a police shootout.

DEMING, New Mexico -- New details emerged Friday about a man described as a "violent criminal" who died in a shootout with numerous law enforcement agencies after gunning down a New Mexico State Police Officer.

Authorities on Friday released a mugshot of 39-year-old Omar Felix Cueva, whom the state police chief indicated had a "violent criminal history that included drug trafficking and other felonies" in California.

A state police official on Friday provided ABC-7 with a lengthy list of Cueva's convictions. It showed his first arrest at age 13 for vandalism, repeated drug possession in his teens and drug trafficking at 21, culminating in possession with intent to distribute crystal meth at age 29.

The complete list of crimes for which he was found guilty included:

  • 06/1994 Vandalism
  • 06/2000 Possession of a controlled substance
  • 09/2001 Possession of Controlled substance
  • 10/2002 Importation of a controlled substance
  • 4/2004 Importation of Cocaine
  • 8/2006 Fictitious Check, False check, Burglary 
  • 3/2007 Probation Violation
  • 3/2008 Import of a controlled substance
  • 9/2010 Possession with intent of Crystal Meth or ICE

Cueva shot and killed 28-year-old Officer Darian Jarrott during a traffic stop on Thursday in Deming along Interstate 10 and drove off, authorities said. It sparked a chase that ended in a highway shootout 30 miles later in Las Cruces, during which Cueva died.

A Homeland Security Investigations official, in a statement to ABC-7 on Friday, said Jarrott was among a group of NMSP officers on Thursday who "were assisting HSI special agents in an enforcement operation in Deming related to an ongoing narcotics investigation."

U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa indicated their investigation was "targeting transnational criminal organizations" operating in New Mexico and Texas, but she declined to elaborate further on the specifics of Thursday's probe that led to the deadly traffic stop.

NMSP Chief Robert Thornton said at a news conference late Thursday night that Cueva was believed to have been headed to a drug deal at the time he was stopped by Jarrott and opened fire on the officer.

The chief wouldn't comment on quantities of drugs or weapons seized from Cueva's pickup truck following the shootout. He also didn't say what, if anything, turned up during a search of Cueva's Deming area home on Thursday night.

Flags across the state flew at half-staff on Friday in the slain officer's honor. Jarrott's body was carried in a police motorcade procession Friday evening from the state Medical Investigator's Office in Albuquerque to a funeral home in Deming.

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Jim Parker

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