Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Two Brothers Arrested; One Woman Shot in Road Rage Incident

Two women were driving in the area of Rio Salado Pkwy and Country Club in Mesa when the occupants inside a sedan became enraged and began yelling at them. The driver of the sedan, 27-year-old Andres Nunez, began swerving into the victims’ car, nearly striking it. His 29-year-old brother Arturo Nunez was also in the car along with a girlfriend.

When both cars reached the intersection at Rio Salado and Country Club, a verbal fight broke out and continued when Arturo and the women got out of their cars. The women heard Arturo yell “west side” while showing the victims his hand in a shape of a “W”. Arturo began hitting the hood of the victims’ car while continuing to yell at them. One of the victims then hit Arturo’s car, prompting the girlfriend and brother to get out.

Realizing they were outnumbered, the woman driver yelled to her passenger to get back in the car just as the passenger was pushed to the ground by Arturo. The driver saw he was holding a gun so she jumps into the car and drives to a nearby parking lot, striking Arturo while attempting to flee. Andres then opens fire, hitting the driver three times – twice in the leg and once in the shoulder -- out of about 12 shots fired. She has non-life threatening injuries.

Mesa Police Officers arrived just as the shooting stopped. Arturo yelled “west side” and “Phoeniquera” at officers as they were giving commands. Arturo did not obey officers’ commands so several bean bag rounds were deployed. He eventually was arrested along with Andres.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Mesa PD’s K9 Rico Instrumental in Catching Burglary Suspect

Mesa Police officers respond to a burglary call at the Goodwill Store near Power and McDowell on January 12, 2020. The reporting party was monitoring the suspect inside the business via a live camera. When the suspect realizes officers are surrounding the building, he runs out and hides in an enclosed area outside the main building.

After the suspect refuses to surrender, K9 Officer Ron Swart sends his dog, Rico, to search the enclosed area. Rico bites the suspect after finding him hiding above the axle of a semi-trailer. The suspect verbally surrenders and no further use of force was required. 

The suspect, 44-year-old Russell Smith, was transported to the hospital for his bite injuries.

A backpack was recovered where Russell was hiding with cash in it. A known amount of money was taken from Goodwill, almost the same amount found in Russell’s backpack.  

Russell admits to prying open the back door and using a grinder to cut into the safe.

Russell is being charged with two felonies – 3rd degree burglary and criminal damage.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Package Theft - Arrest

On December 14, 2019 Mesa Police Officers were dispatched to the area of 2900 E Pueblo for a report of a suspicious person possibly stealing packages from residential doorways. Officers located and contacted the suspect who was later identified as 37 year old Nicole Watson. Watson was caught with several packages in her possession that had just been stolen. She admitted to stealing the packages from multiple homes and was also found to be in possession of dangerous drugs. Nicole was charged with three counts of Theft, one count of Possession of a Dangerous Drug, and one count of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. The investigation also revealed she may have been involved in additional thefts and a stolen vehicle investigation out of Chandler.

On December 15, 2019 Officers located the stolen vehicle at the Home Depot at 435 S Val Vista and eventually arrested a male driver of that vehicle. Additional stolen packages were in the vehicle and have been returned to their original owners. The suspect in this stolen vehicle case was identified as 24 year old Alan Preciado-Cruz. Preciado-Cruz was charged with one count of Possession of Dangerous Drugs, and one count of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Great work by all involved and happy the victims were able to get their packages back just before the holidays. If you see suspicious activity call and report it.

Alan Preciado-Cruz
Nicole Watson 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Operation Naughty List - Prostitution Arrests

The Mesa Police Department recently carried out Operation Naughty List, an undercover operation targeting the demand for sex crimes and human trafficking. Throughout the operational period, officers and undercover detectives were contacted by suspects who solicited and/or brokered deals for various sex acts and were subsequently arrested.

The Mesa Police Department routinely conducts operations of this type in a continuous effort to reduce the demand that fuels human sex trafficking from our community. The suspects in this operation ranged in age from 26 to 80 years old.

The Mesa Police Department partners with organizations and survivor advocates to assist victims who have been exploited or trafficked. If you have information about someone being trafficked, contact your local police department or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888. Their website is https://humantraffickinghotline.org/.
For more information about human exploitation and trafficking and how to help, please visit: http://mesaaz.gov/residents/police/departments-divisions/mesa-family-advocacy-center/heat

Thursday, December 5, 2019

A Former Drug Cartel Member is Arrested for Homicide

Daniel Villalobos-Espinoza, (DOB 5/16/1995), was arrested by Mesa Police on December 4, 2019, at 557 S. Olive #A. He’s charged with first-degree murder in the death of Carlos Osuna-Apodaca on November 30, 2019, someone who had worked for the same drug cartels.

A witness said Daniel’s brother, Jesus Villalobos-Espinoza, stopped by the apartment to visit the victim but he went to his room. Shortly after, the witness heard two gunshots, opened the door and found Osuna-Apodaca with a gunshot wound to the head and neck, bleeding and unresponsive. The witness then saw Daniel, standing in the apartment with a handgun, telling the witness to mind his own business. Police confirmed the witness information.

In addition, a friend of the brothers told police that Daniel and Jesus had disputes with the victim in the past and that one of the brothers was probably going to shoot Osuna-Apodaca.

 Daniel Villalobos-Espinoza

After a search warrant was served, police found a gun matching the caliber of the murder weapon.

Meanwhile, under Miranda, Jesus told police he was at the victim’s residence when his brother Daniel showed up unexpectedly. Jesus said he went outside to smoke a cigarette but took off after he heard two gunshots inside. Daniel later told Jesus that he and Osuna-Apodaca both worked for the drug cartels as a desert spotter and through third-party information, learned Osuna-Apodaca had been ordered by the cartels to kill him. So, Daniel decided to kill the victim first.

When police arrive, Daniel initially denied committing the murder but then learned of his brother’s statement to police so Daniel confessed. He said Osuna-Apodaca was not armed and his bedroom door was locked. Daniel admits to shooting the victim in the head and then reshooting him just in case he was still alive.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Homicide Arrest

On November 25, 2019 at approximately 4:00 pm Mesa Police were dispatched to Rotary Park located at 205 West 8th Ave in Mesa reference a subject stabbed and not breathing. Officers found a male victim lying on the concrete walkway not breathing, with a stab wound to the chest. The victim was transported to the hospital, where he was later pronounced deceased.

Initial responding Officers located multiple transients in the park and asked if anyone saw anything. One of the males, later identified as Anthony Hollingshead, told the officer that he stabbed the victim while defending his wife and the knife used was in his pocket. The officer took the knife out of the defendant’s pocket and secured it. Hollingshead was transported to the Mesa Police station for an interview.

Hollingshead said he has hung out at the park almost every day for the past month and has had numerous run ins with the victim. Hollingshead said the victim has been harassing towards his wife and has tried to take items out of his cart full of personal belongings. Hollingshead admitted to being in an altercation with the victim and said he was punched so he automatically responded by punching back one time in the chest area. He admitted to having his fully extended knife in his hand at the time he punched back.

A search of the surrounding area and victim’s clothing was negative for any other weapons. Hollingshead’s story was not consistent with other witness accounts and he has been charged with one count of 2nd degree murder.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Homicide Arrest

On Monday November 11, 2019 at approximately 3:00 pm Mesa Police responded to the Windemere Motel, 5750 E. Main St. #204, regarding a female who stated she had been shot. Upon arrival officers located two gunshot victims inside the room, one adult male and one adult female. The male was pronounced deceased at the scene and the female was transported to the hospital with life threatening injuries.

The female stated a male named Tony shot them because he thought they stole his drugs. The defendant was identified as 44-year-old Anthony Wayne Gushee.
A search warrant was obtained at the crime scene and detectives located a quantity of crystal like substance that appeared to be methamphetamine packaged for sale as well as numerous syringes containing a liquid substance.

At approximately 11:50 pm detectives located Anthony at 9333 E Apache Trail where he was taken into custody without incident. Anthony said he goes by Tony and when asked about the crime he requested an attorney and invoked his right to remain silent. Anthony has a prior history of drug related offenses.

Anthony has been charged with one count of Second Degree Murder and one count of Aggravated Assault. The investigation remains ongoing.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Laser Pointed at Aircraft - Arrest Made

On 10/26/19 the Mesa Police Air Unit was flying around the area of 1140 S 111th Circle in Mesa, AZ when a green laser was pointed at them. They notified ground units of the approximate location and then returned and were again pointed at by the green laser. Ground units observed the suspect pointing the laser and he was identified as 30-year-old Phillip Merrell. Officers learned Phillip had pointed the laser the day before at a commercial airliner from the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Officers also learned there were numerous other recent complaints from pilots saying someone in the area was shining a laser at them. Phillip said he didn’t know it was illegal to point a laser at an occupied aircraft.

Phillip was arrested and charged with one count of pointing a laser at an occupied aircraft and one count of endangerment involving risk of imminent death.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Major Drug Arrest

On October 17, 2019, the Mesa Police Department Organized Crime Unit received information of suspicious activity occurring at a Travel Lodge Hotel located at 1424 North 50th Ave in Phoenix, AZ. The investigation led detectives to identify a male and female likely involved in drug possession and sales. The female was later identified as Marisol Beltran Marquez (DOB 7-3-77) and was observed driving an involved vehicle. She was pulled over for a civil traffic violation and a certified Mesa Police K9 was called to the scene which alerted to the presence of drugs in the vehicle. After searching the vehicle and concluding search warrants on all the involved properties, detectives located over 20 pounds of cocaine, 16 pounds of heroin, 20 pounds of Methamphetamine and approximately 15,000 pills of fentanyl. There was also over $3,000 cash in the vehicle.

The male was later identified as Jeusef Roberto Beltran Arenas (DOB 1-26-95) and was determined to be the person in control of the room where the investigation initiated and where the illicit drugs were observed being picked up by Marisol. Jeusef was stopped earlier in the day and already detained by DPS for possession of illegal drugs. Jeusef declined to talk to detectives about the investigation. Marisol stated Jeusef was her nephew and she had received a call stating he was arrested and she needed to pick up the items in the hotel. Marisol said she didn’t know exactly what was in the bags she picked up but believed it was some sort of illegal drugs.

Marisol has been charged with:

Transport/Sale Narcotic Drug (3 Counts), Possession of Narcotic Drug for Sale (3 Counts), Possession of Narcotic Drug ( 3 Counts), Transport/Sale Dangerous Drug, Possession of Dangerous Drug for Sale, Possession of Dangerous Drug, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Jeusef has been charged with:

Transport/Sale Narcotic Drug (3 Counts), Possession of Narcotic Drug for Sale (3 Counts), Possession of Narcotic Drug ( 3 Counts), Transport/Sale Dangerous Drug, Possession of Dangerous Drug for Sale, Possession of Dangerous Drug, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

The estimated street value of the drugs seized is nearly $600,000. Great job by all involved. The Mesa Police Department is grateful to have good working relationships with our local and federal law enforcement partners and we wish to thank the members of the East Valley Drug Task Force and Mesa Police SWAT who assisted in this investigation.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Roadways Prove Dangerous for Construction Workers, Police and Fire

Sgt. Loewenhagen
Almost 1,500 construction workers nationally have been killed on the job.

“Construction workers have kind of a unique aspect because when they’re in a roadway, the roadway is not flowing normally,” said Traffic Sgt. Greg Loewenhagen.

“There are barricades out in the road, the speed limits have changed. So, the people who are used to traveling those roads are not traveling a normal traffic pattern. Any bit of those changes can have an impact on drivers such as the lowered speed limits, the change of signage where you used to be able to turn right or left and now you can’t. That all present hazards when people are driving. Many times, they’re driving distracted – they’re not paying attention to those signs, they’re not looking at the barricades. The construction personnel who are out in the roadway at that time trying to work have drivers whizzing by who aren’t paying attention as they should be and it’s extremely hazardous to them.”

In addition to barricades, at every roadway work zone there are signs that say something like ‘workers on duty.’

“Their job is dangerous and unfortunately, they’re committed to moving electrical lines or digging through the asphalt,” explained Loewenhagen. “Their attention is not on traffic so they’re hoping those barricades do their job. They’re hoping the cars stay where they’re supposed to stay. But it’s dangerous for sure.”

The dangers are equal for both police officers and firefighters.

“People see the red and blue lights, it catches their attention and, unfortunately, they’re not looking for people who are on foot,” said Loewenhagen. “They’re not looking for an officer standing in the road. They’re not looking for a firefighter or a civilian who may have gotten into a vehicle collision who’s out in the roadway. They’re looking at the cars. They see big objects. They don’t see the small ones. They don’t see the people. And that’s a big hazard. That’s why we wear bright yellow vests. It’s why we try to be as visible as possible. It is a very hazardous job anytime you’re in a roadway where there are vehicles.”

If you get a ticket for not slowing down in work zones, the fines are typically double what the normal penalty would be due to the increased danger to workers in those areas. The points, added to your driving record, are the same since the point accrual is set by the Motor Vehicle Division. A ticket can also increase your insurance rates.

As Sgt. Loewenhagen points out, most of these violations are civil violations so it’s just a ticket, not a crime.   

As a motorcycle officer, Sgt. Loewenhagen has near misses on a regular basis. “I have to brake very heavily to avoid somebody turning left in front of me or I have to evade left or right from somebody who’s pulling into a lane I’m already occupying. Motorcycles, unfortunately, aren’t as visible as vehicles. The same as pedestrians. They’re smaller objects. They take up less space in someone’s field of view. So, it happens to me about every week or two where I have to avoid a collision on a motorcycle.”

He does pull those drivers over when he’s able to but doesn’t if he’s headed to an emergency call.

“One of the things we try to do as motorcycle officers are if we make traffic stops on roadways with a 45 mph or higher speed limit, we try to get the motorist off the road,” Sgt. Loewenhagen said. “I want them to pull into a parking lot, pull onto a side street, get off the road completely. That’s safer for us, safer for the other motorists on the roadway. If I have to stop on a roadway that has a high-speed limit, I’m approaching the passenger side of the car. I don’t even want to be next to traveling vehicles that are at full road speed. Sometimes we’re forced to do it. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling even for someone like me who’s been doing it for 20 years and probably has made 5,000-10,000 traffic stops.”

His advice to any driver getting pulled over is to get off the road, turn your emergency flashers on immediately, if possible, and begin to slow down. “That way the officer behind you knows that you’re acknowledging you’

The sergeant reassures drivers they won’t get in trouble for driving a little way to find a safe place to pull over.

“I appreciate people who are pulling over, at my direction, when they go to a safe spot,” added Loewenhagen.