What would Jesus Malverde do? Here in Winslow, his image was found presiding over an estimated $10,000 $15,000 in crystal meth, cocaine and crack cocaine in a home on Mercury Lane. Adorning this shrine, now in the possession of the Navajo County Sheriffs office, are: seven handguns, five rifles with a .22-caliber 100-round drum magazine, stolen ID cards, paraphernalia and some silver coins.
Local law enforcement was planning to bring in a Phoenix SWAT team for this bust because they were expecting a shoot-out, but they saw an opportunity to avoid the violence and ended up arresting Richard Lucero, 54, while he was washing his Chevy Blazer at a local car wash.
Mr. Lucero, a 30-year Winslow resident, used to be a plumber out at the prison near town.
"He had said when he quit that he wanted to go to town to make more money," said Ed Fieser, assistant warden at Winslow prison.
Lucero will be facing 15 counts of Class 2 felonies, which include the possession, sale and transport of a dangerous narcotics.
"Looking at this meth we have now, we noticed it looks a little wet, which means it was probably manufactured recently," said KC Clarke, deputy commander of the Major Crimes Apprehension Team for Navajo County.
Clark said that this kind of meth was likely to be produced from a liquid form that is being smuggled over the border in alcohol bottles and then is processed for distribution once it gets here. This development in the drug trade is beginning to overwhelm the smaller operations where meth is made from pseudoephedrine products gathered from stores.
Where this meth was made is not known by law enforcement, but police did say that they had heard Lucero's name in Holbrook, Winslow and Pinetop.
"He was one of the major dealers in our area," said Clark.