Highlands baseball players implicated in drug case

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By Martín Salazar and Dave Kavanaugh
Las Vegas Optic

Three New Mexico Highlands University baseball players have been kicked off the team and four others were suspended for nine games following a drug raid last week on a house on the 1900 block of New Mexico Avenue.

University spokesman Sean Weaver said the university has been in communications with city police on the case. The suspended players are the ones who will likely not be charged while the three who were kicked off the team are the ones who are likely facing charges, Weaver said. The students kicked off the team have been referred to the Dean of Students Office for possible disciplinary action.

University officials found out about the case last week when the baseball team was in Colorado. The students involved were brought back to Las Vegas, Weaver said. NMHU baseball coach Steve Jones said he initiated that move “so we could sort things out as soon as possible.”

The names of the players have not been released.

“I really don’t have any tolerance for people selling drugs,” Highlands President Jim Fries said through a spokesman.

Officers with the Region IV Narcotics Drug Task Force showed up to execute a search warrant at the New Mexico Avenue house last Thursday and saw a suspect taking delivery of three packages from a U.S. Postal Service carrier.

Inside one of those boxes was a “large amount of suspected marijuana that was wrapped in plastic,” according to a probable cause statement filed in San Miguel County Magistrate Court on Monday. But that’s not all police found during a search of the home.  

Police arrested former player Derek Grieve, 23, and charged him with trafficking Ecstasy, a second-degree felony; distribution of marijuana and Ecstasy, fourth-degree felonies; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor. Grieve was booked into the San Miguel County Detention Center on a $50,000 cash only bond.

The court document states that agents searching the residence found more suspected marijuana inside Grieve’s bedroom. The marijuana was individually packaged in baggies and stored in glass jars, police state. Agents also found several suspected Ecstasy pills in his room.

“During the interview, (Grieve) admitted to selling marijuana to get by on paying his bills,” Agent Matias Apodaca said in the probable cause statement he filed with the court. “He also admitted to selling Ecstasy pills to persons that would ask for them.”

The mailed package containing the suspected marijuana was addressed to Grieve.

Grieve admitted to agents that he was waiting for the package to arrive by mail and that he knew it contained marijuana, the court document states.

Jones said he involved his team in the discipline process for the players who are to return.

“We’re talking daily, and we are dealing with it as a team,” he said. “Obviously it’s a distraction, but our program is strong enough, and our players are strong enough that we are able to move on.”

Jones said the dismissals will hurt depth but allow other players to have an opportunity.

“We think we’re handling it well, and we think we’ve done the right thing,” he said. “We’re trying to put the distraction behind us as quickly as possible.”