Information from a fiancé led New Mexico State Police Agent Alexander Bennett to build a case against an Alcalde man for solicitation of a minor and felon in possession of a firearm.
Amy Jones went to the Española District 7 office Aug. 27 after finding disturbing images on her fiancé Francisco Romero’s laptop. Jones initially spoke to Officer Christopher Urquidi, who passed the information to the Criminal Investigation Division.
Bennett met with Jones the same day. Jones was upset but understood what she had uncovered on her fiance’s computer was wrong and she had to do something about it.
Jones told Bennett she met Romero in Florida four years earlier. Romero, 37, told Jones he was a convicted felon and a registered sex offender. She tried to overcome Romero’s past while staying in the relationship.
Bennett wrote in his investigative report that Jones became suspicious of Romero Aug. 22 when she thought he was talking to someone else. She subsequently found an email indicating Romero had changed his Instagram account name. She told Bennett she dug further and discovered he was communicating with very young girls on Instagram under different user names.
Jones told Bennett that Romero had also changed his business Instagram account, removed all of the inventory and business promotion material and was “communicating with a large number of underage girls.”
Jones took pictures of the screen presentations of 56 girls, which Bennett described in a search warrant as prepubescent.
She also described conversations she had read in Romero’s email. In one email she told Bennett that Romero asked a “modeling agency” if he would get sexy pictures of the 12-year-old girl in the T100 package.
After obtaining Romero’s laptop while searching his house, Bennett found that conversation in Romero’s email.
Bennett wrote Romero asked the agency’s customer service representative, “What kind of pictures and videos can I expect with the T100?”
The representative responds, “They are pictures of Natalie.”
Romero asks, “Does T100 have sexy pictures of Natalie?”
The support representative replies, “She is 12 years old you idiot. Is there something wrong with you? Goodbye!”
In one of his email accounts Jones said she found messages sent to Romero’s account from what appears to be a child’s parent telling him that their daughter was 12 and confronting him for the inappropriate requests for naked photos he had made of their child. Jones said this also pushed her to go through Romero’s computer.
Being a convicted felon on probation, Romero was not allowed to possess a firearm. Jones said he had two firearms including one registered to her. Romero had an AR-15 registered to Jones and a 9 mm Ruger, which Jones said he bought at a gun show in Aztec immediately prior to the mandatory background check law passed in New Mexico in 2019.
Bennett wrote Jones told him because of incidents of domestic violence she had removed the firing pins from three firearms but, “Suspected Francis to be in possession of at least one additional functional firearm.”
Bennett confirmed Romero was charged in December 2008 for possession of child pornography in Florida. He was sentenced to five years. Bennettt verified Romero was a registered New Mexico sex offender and had been released from prison Sept. 1, 2017. Romero completed a period of probation ending Dec, 22, 2018. In compliance with federal and state law, his 10-year prohibition from possession of any firearms would have started at that time.
Based on Bennett’s conversation with Jones and subsequent research of Romero’s accounts, provided by Jones, he sought and received a search warrant for Romero’s home, Chevrolet van and his person.
At 8:32 p.m., Aug. 28 Bennett executed the search warrants on Romero’s home and van with the assistance of State Police Agent Cruzita Romero, Sgt. Wyatt Harwell and officers Christopher Quintana, Wyatt Harwell and Christopher Urquidi, who was Jones’ original contact when she reported the incident.
Jones assisted with the search, removing her dog and identifying key locations to be searched. Jones had removed key components to the AR-15 and Bennettt retrieved the inoperable weapon. They also recovered, “a large amount of ammunition, both .223 and 9 mm were located, along with multiple loaded magazines for rifles and pistols.”
Bennettt wrote finding the 9 mm ammunition was indicative that what Jones’ told him during the initial interview about Romero having such a handgun was accurate.
The team also recovered $6,482 in cash, various USB drives, two tablets, three laptops and a digital camera. They also found 57 assorted boxes of 50 rounds each of 9 mm ammunition, an unquantified amount of .38 ammunition and 23 boxes of 20 rounds each of .223 Remington ammunition, for the AR-15 rifle.
Jones told Bennettt during the initial interview that since she had just left Romero and had made threats during domestic violence episodes to report him to police, that he probably hid pornography and firearms and/or ammunition in the moving van on his property.
While Bennettt and his team were searching the home and van, Officer Matthew Bustos watched Romero’s vehicle at La Cocina, where he worked. After three hours, Bennettt contacted Bustos and told him they had enough evidence to hold Romero and told Bustos to arrest him.
After Romero’s arrest his Nissan Pathfinder was towed to District 7 headquarters. Agent Jessie Whitaker conducted a search of the vehicle and recovered some pornographic magazines, some DVDs and a thumb drive.
Bennettt filed a criminal complaint in Magistrate Court Aug. 31 charging Romero with two counts of child solicitation by electronic communication device (child under 13) and two counts of possession of firearm or destructive device by a felon, one for a firearm and one for the ammunition.
Neither the Magistrate Court number, Search Warrant court number nor Romero’s name came up in an electronic document search of District Court.