Jul 5, 2007
After three month's surveillance, an employee from the Plutonium Facility (Technical Area-55) at Los Alamos National Laboratory was arrested June 26 and charged with possession of a controlled substance.
According to Magistrate Court documents obtained in Espanola, Daren Chacon, 29, admitted to owning two plastic bags containing 30.5 grams of cocaine discovered by Middle Rio Grande Valley Task Force agents. The agents found the drugs in a pair of jeans lying on the backseat floor of the red 2007 Kia he was riding in.
In a First District Court Search Warrant, an agent with the task force stated that information was received from a confidential informant who knew "of a location where narcotics were being sold on a continuous and ongoing basis."
The informant went on to purchase cocaine from Chacon in controlled buys at his home in Gallina, according to the warrant.
"There is no indication, evidence or suspicion that the investigation of this individual is related to his job or workplace," LANL spokesman Jeff Berger said this morning. "Members of the Middle Rio Grande Valley Task Force recently approached laboratory security about a drug related investigation. The lab has cooperated fully with the task force. We have no indication that any illegal activity took place at the lab."
Berger added that LANL has a robust policy against substance abuse and illegal drug activity, including random drug testing.
According to the Statement of Probable Cause, filed in Magistrate Court in Espanola, agents were "conducting continuous surveillance upon Chacon" as he left the laboratory that day.
Chacon was noted in the document to be the passenger in the red car bearing a temporary New Mexico registration.
Chacon was followed as he traveled from Los Alamos eventually through Espanola, according to the report. As the Kia drove north on U.S. 84/285, it was detected on stationary radar at 57 mph in a posted 45 mph zone by the Rio Arriba County Deputy Sheriff.
The vehicle was stopped by the sheriff a short distance later, as stated in the court document. The female driver of the Kia was found to be the registered owner, and according to court documents, gave agent Ronnie Watkins verbal consent to search her car.
Agents found a radiation monitoring badge and a radiation protection wristband in the car along with the two bags of cocaine.
In conducting the narcotics investigation concerning Chacon, agents from the Middle Rio Grande Valley Task Force obtained a District Court Search Warrant on June 22 to search both Chacon and his residence in Gallina, which they served at 8:55 p.m. on June 26.
While searching Chacon's single-wide mobile home in Gallina, just north of Espanola, agents found a variety of rifles and ammunition in addition to 1.3 grams of cocaine in a bathroom.
The case has been assigned to Espanola Magistrate Court Judge Alex Naranjo, who set bail at $5,000.
Chacon was arraigned June 27, and according to court documents, pleaded not guilty and was released after posting a $500 cash bond.
Chacon is charged with possession of a controlled substance, which is a felony. Additional charges may be added.
Chacon refused to comment on his arrest during a telephone call later on Tuesday.
FBI spokesman Bill Elwell said this morning that FBI agents do work with the Middle Rio Grande Valley Task Force from time to time.
"Whether they worked on his particular drug investigation is not readily known," Elwell said.