Crime Scene

A corrections officer with the San Miguel County Detention Center is accused of accepting cash bribes in exchange for bringing packages containing narcotics to jail inmates.

Investigators with the Region IV Narcotics Task Force allege that 31-year-old Joseph M. Sena III, used his position as a corrections officer to bring packages containing suboxone, heroin and fentanyl to inmates at the San Miguel County jail. An arrest warrant was issued for Sena on Friday.

The investigation into Sena began in November 2021, according to an affidavit filed in San Miguel Magistrate Court on Friday.

Investigators allege that Sena routinely spoke to a woman whose husband was incarcerated at SMCDC and that the two arranged meetings in various locations around Las Vegas where they would meet.

At those meetings, the woman would give Sena a package containing narcotics along with a cash payment, and then Sena would bring the package to the woman’s husband inside his jail cell, according to the affidavit.

Once at the jail, the packages would be labeled “legal mail,” in other words, mail that is sent from an inmate’s attorney. However, investigators determined the packages were not coming from any attorney and that the labels were fraudulent.

In February, police searched a home in the 700 block of Taos Street and recovered seven “legal mail” envelopes that contained an address for a legitimate law firm in Albuquerque. Investigators allege the envelopes were counterfeit and part of a “scheme” to get narcotics into the jail, according to the affidavit.

Days after searching the house on Taos Street, investigators spoke with a man incarcerated at SMCDC who said he had firsthand knowledge that Sena was bringing drugs to inmates inside the facility.

The man told police that, on multiple occasions, he’d witnessed Sena bring narcotics to an inmate in the pod, and that he knew about the inmate’s wife, who was meeting Sena outside the jail to get the packages.

Sena would deliver packages with contraband inside by wrapping a package with inmates’ court documents before hand delivering it to them in their cells, the man told investigators.

On March 19, investigators interviewed the woman accused of bringing the packages to Sena. She admitted to routinely meeting Sena at locations around town, and to  giving him packages that contained drugs, according to the affidavit. She said Sena would call her from a blocked phone number to tell her where to meet him, and that they used different locations in the Las Vegas area to meet.

The woman said the payments she made to Sena varied depending on the size of the package that Sena took into the jail, but she said she remembered paying $800 once for a large package.

Sena is charged with one count of bringing contraband into a prison and one count conspiracy to commit trafficking, both felonies. He was not in custody as of this writing.

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