An inmate at Montezuma County Detention Center faces new charges after three hypodermic syringes were found in his hair bun on Dec. 20.
Two syringes were empty, but one contained a clear liquid that is believed to be Suboxone, a narcotic that helps treats opioid dependence. Detention staff noticed plastic tubes concealed in the hair of inmate Zakri Sanchez, 32, when he was asked to place his hands against a wall after exhibiting “unruly conduct” while exercising in the yard, according to a Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office incident report.
A detention sergeant and deputy who searched the man’s bun found three syringes with the tubes cut to make them easier to conceal, according to the incident report.
Sanchez later told detention staff that the syringes contained Suboxone. Sanchez said a white inmate had given them to him when the white inmate was released from jail, according to the incident report. He did not provide other information that could lead to suspects, the report said.
A test came back negative for meth, and the syringe was sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for analysis.
The incident report states hypodermic needles could be used to attack detention staff or other inmates. They also could contain contagious or dangerous illnesses.
Montezuma County Court Judge JenniLynn Lawrence on Dec. 21 set bond at $500 cash or surety. He is charged with possession of contraband involving a dangerous instrument, a Class 4 felony, and possession of a schedule III, IV or V controlled substance.
Sanchez appeared in court via video again on Dec. 27. Public defender Justin Bogan said Sanchez, who lives in Albuquerque, faces an unrelated one-year prison sentence in New Mexico.
According to the New Mexico Department of Corrections, Sanchez is on a suspended sentence for two charges of possessing a controlled substance in 2016 and 2017 and a 2016 forgery charge. He was arrested in Montezuma County on Dec. 9 as a fugitive from justice.
Bogan said Sanchez has waived extradition and wants to resolve the Montezuma County case so he can serve time in New Mexico. Bogan also stated in court that he believes his client was being held in “isolation” at the Montezuma County Detention Center, which he argued is inhumane.
“Because of these charges he’s been placed in isolation for 90 days, which we all know the United Nations has determined to be torture,” Bogan said in court Dec. 27.
Sheriff Steve Nowlin told The Journal that there are no solitary confinement cells at the Montezuma County Detention Center, but inmates who have mental problems or are under the influence of drugs are regularly placed into private cells for observation and protection of staff and inmates. He said five other inmates are in cells by themselves.
“He’s not in a cubicle with no sight or sound, he just has no TV,” Nowlin said. “He can read a book, he can write, he can do whatever.”
About two hours after Sanchez appeared in court on Dec. 27, a police scanner call indicated at 4:16 p.m. that an inmate, later identified as Sanchez, was unconscious and unresponsive. He was placed in an ambulance and taken to Southwest Memorial Hospital.
Outside the Montezuma County Detention Center on Thursday, Nowlin said he discovered that Sanchez lying face-down in his cell, apparently after blacking out. He added that the incident involving Sanchez, who was jailed on Dec. 9, was the first that required Sanchez to be taken to the hospital.