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Daryl Carson

Daryl Carson

Melanie Villegas

Melanie Villegas

A trio of local residents were arrested on drug charges and a child removed into the care of the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) as a result of an investigation by the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force (PVDTF).

In a release issued Friday afternoon, the PVDTF stated agents conducted an investigation Oct. 26 at the residence located at 2503 W. Grand Ave. There, they made contact with Melanie Villegas and began speaking to her about potential narcotics trafficking at the address.

Upon entering the garage, agents noted plastic jeweler’s bags containing a crystal substance that appeared to be methamphetamine in plain view, along with numerous syringes and glass pipes on a table.

Villegas confirmed the substance was meth and informed agents it belonged to her and her husband, Daryl S. Carson, who was inside the residence. Carson was contacted, and based on the conversation, a search warrant was requested for the residence.

CYFD was also contacted at this time, due to the presence of a 2-year-old child belonging to the couple.

During the ensuing investigation, Villegas began arguing with Carson about the meth and was observed typing a text message to a known drug dealer concerning the presence of law enforcement at the residence. She was stopped for security reasons before she could send the text. Agents then requested that a transport unit take Villegas to jail, due to unruly and resistive behavior.

Agents also noticed Villegas was behaving strangely, moving about and looking for an unknown object. After being told she was under arrest, she informed agents she was not going to jail. She refused to be handcuffed by an Eddy County Sheriff’s Office deputy and reached to her groin area, removing a syringe. She then removed the cap and punctured her left arm at the bend of her elbow.

As deputies and agents moved to grab her arms in an attempt to stop her actions and take her into custody, Villegas moved away, grabbed the syringe like a knife, and began attempting to stab at the deputies and agents. They were able to gain control of her right arm and hand, which held the loaded syringe. She continued attempting to stab them but was forced to the ground and the syringe broken as her hand hit the floor.

Villegas was ultimately handcuffed, disarmed, and transported to the Artesia General Hospital emergency room before being taken to jail.

After executing the search warrant, agents located trafficking amounts of meth – 38.3 grams – and several firearms, along with numerous syringes, glass pipes, and digital scales. The property was seized and collected as evidence.

During the search, a third male, identified as Robert Cotham, arrived at the residence and, when contacted, was found to be holding a firearm in his hand. Following a few tense seconds, Cotham was disarmed and more meth located on his person. The firearm had an obliterated serial number.

Cotham faces charges of possession of methamphetamine and federal firearms violations.

On Wednesday, agents conducted further investigations into the welfare of the child found at the residence. The child was tested on a prior date for exposure to dangerous drugs and tested positive for the presence of amphetamine and methamphetamine via a hair follicle test. The PVDTF removed the child from the custody of Carson, and the child was turned over to CYFD.

Carson is facing pending state and federal charges of meth trafficking, firearms violations, child abuse, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Villegas was charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon upon a peace officer, resisting arrest, meth trafficking, tampering with evidence, and child abuse.

Anyone with more information on this case or any other drug investigation is asked to contact the PVDTF at 575-887-5194 or report anonymously to Crimestoppers of Eddy County by calling 575-887-1888, texting code word StopACrime plus the tip to 274637, or via the Tipsoft link at cityofcarlsbadnm.com/police.cfm.