Breaking Down Barriers Series

Breaking Down Barriers Series

In February 2020, the Las Vegas Optic launched an ongoing series on drug and alcohol addiction in the New Mexico counties of San Miguel and Mora. The series explores the roots of addiction, what’s being done about it, and it looks at how other communities are addressing addiction. The following are series stories reported and written by Ryan Lowery.


Breaking Down Barriers:
Scope of drug addiction ‘hard to quantify’

| Feb.

The San Miguel County Detention Center had 1,812 total criminal bookings in 2019, ranging from petty misdemeanors to first-degree murder. Of those booked into SMCDC in 2019, about 8 percent were charged with at least one drug-related crime, and many individuals faced multiple drug charges. These charges ranged from possession… READ MORE


Breaking Down Barriers:
Federal agents aid in struggle to disrupt drug trafficking in Vegas

| Feb.

It was designed to look like a routine transaction. The buyer paid $20,000 in cash for 10 ounces of crack cocaine and 10 ounces of powder cocaine. But it wasn’t routine. In this case, the buyer was paying with cash provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration…. READ MORE


Breaking Down Barriers:
‘An ongoing battle’: Corrections staff work to prevent drug trade in county jail

| May

Ashley N. Fernandez approached the nondescript door on the back of the courthouse early in the morning. She moved quickly, and everything went as planned. She hurried back to a car parked on Morrison Street and drove away, headed toward National Avenue. The transport van arrived hours later. Carrying inmates from the San Miguel County Detention Center, it pulled up to the door… READ MORE


Breaking Down Barriers:
Program decriminalizes addiction by emphasizing recovery, not jail

They are struggling, often at the lowest point in their lives. Then they’re arrested. Charged with a crime, they face fines, fees and maybe even a lengthy sentence behind bars. They come from varied backgrounds and walks of life. The events that led them into the courtroom are nuanced. Nevertheless, they face a rigid system predicated on the notion that, no matter the reasons behind their actions, those who’ve committed a crime must be punished. One rural Colorado town is rethinking this approach though… READ MORE


Breaking Down Barriers:
Arrests decrease under diversion program

Many people with an addiction to drugs or alcohol will end up spending time in jail. The reasons may be because they cannot afford bail, because they are picked up on warrants for missed court dates or because they are arrested for other crimes while awaiting trial. This has led to crowded jails and overloaded court dockets nationwide; however, the southern Colorado town of Alamosa is looking to ease these strains… READ MORE


Breaking Down Barriers:
Diversion program thrives on cooperation, embraces skeptics

Addiction is not a crime, yet many battling addiction end up with a criminal record because their addiction pushed them to break the law. In some cases, they might steal items from a store. In other cases, the crime they’ve committed is merely possessing the drug they’re addicted to…. READ MORE