A 27-year-old Santa Fe man who was incarcerated at the Rio Arriba County Detention Center may be connected to at least two deaths and one overdose in which the men took “blue pills” aka fentanyl.

Ricky Martinez was an inmate at the detention center on March 27, when the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office was called in regard to an inmate who had four suspected fentanyl pills in his possession.

He’d been in jail because a bench warrant had been issued in an Española Magistrate Court case from June 24, 2020, in which he was charged with robbery and aggravated battery (great bodily harm).

Sgt. Craig Yazzie responded to the call and spoke with detention supervisor Guy Jordan, who told him that he had seen, via the jail’s camera system, that blue pills were being passed under the door of a cell, to inmates that were passing by in the hallway.

“Corrections Officer Jordan stated it came from cell ‘block 22’ that housed Ricky N. Martinez Jr. and his cell mate, Adam Molina,” Yazzie wrote in his incident report.

Jordan said two days prior, another inmate overdosed because Martinez had passed him a blue pill. The inmate, Miguel Lujan, was revived after two doses of Narcan were administered. However, more pills were confiscated from Martinez following that incident.

Also on March 27, a third inmate, Manuel Gutierrez, was found dead in his cell. Initially, the investigating deputies suspected a gastrointestinal bleed as the cause of death, however, after searching the man’s cell, they found a black, melted plastic-like substance and burnt paper, along with a rolled smoking device that had been used. 

Cpl. Chris Gurule wrote in his supplemental report, that the black substance had “presumptively” tested positive for fentanyl.

Because of what Jordan saw on surveillance, he and his staff did a shake-down of Martinez’s and Molina’s cell. 

“He stated they found four blue pills hidden under Mr. Martinez’ bed,” Yazzie wrote. “He handed me a small plastic bag that contained four blue pills. From prior training and experience, I suspected the pills to be fentanyl.”

Yazzie suggested that Martinez and Molina be separated and that additional cell checks be conducted.

The sergeant entered the pills into evidence and wrote that he intended to get an arrest warrant for Martinez and Molina and charge them with possession of a controlled substance. He also intended to charge Martinez with bringing contraband into a county jail.

The following day, on March 28, Yazzie was notified by Corrections Officer Supervisor Adeline Martinez, that her officers did another shake-down on Martinez and found 27 blue pills on him.

“She informed me that they were the same or similar blue pills that had been confiscated from him the day before,” Yazzie wrote in his supplemental report. “She stated the pills were found hidden in his sock and one of his front shift (sic) pocket.”

Corrections Officers Christopher Martinez and Matthew Leyba searched Ricky Martinez and told him to hand over his clothing. Leyba found a pill in the pocket of the man’s shirt and as he handed Leyba his socks, he told him there was something in it.

“Inmate Ricky Martinez was resecured into his cell and the C.O.’s discovered the many blue pills in the sock,” Yazzie wrote. “Both corrections officers visually identified the pills to be the same as the previously confiscated pills Ricky had in his possession the day before.”

After speaking with Assistant District Attorney Karen Etcitty about the two incidents and the findings, she allegedly agreed to charge Ricky Martinez with bringing contraband into a (county) jail, tampering with evidence, trafficking of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.

Martinez was released from jail on April 8 and went to the Adullam Project Men’s Home at 19521 U.S. Highway 84/285. There, he met Shane Gothard, 34, of Texas, who was later found unconscious and not breathing in the bathroom, after having been upstairs with Ricky Martinez, getting a haircut.

Medics were unable to revive Gothard and he died. Michael Strand, the director of the men’s home, told Deputy Dwayne Epling, that earlier that day, Ricky Martinez gave him a little round, blue pill, which he claimed to have found in his shorts, saying he didn’t want to do it anymore. Strand and two others flushed the pill down the toilet.

During the investigation into Gothard’s death, Ricky Martinez allegedly told Epling that he was done with drugs and wanted to get help. When the deputy asked about the blue pill he gave Strand, he allegedly claimed it must have been in his shorts when he went to jail about a month prior.

According to an online court records search, Martine was release on his own recognizance by Española Magistrate Court Judge Joseph Madid, however, he failed to appear in court on April 20 for a status hearing and another bench warrant was issued that day.

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