Assistant District Attorney A.J. Salazar has returned to work full time in Española after a tour of duty in Iraq.

    Salazar had been in Iraq from January through most of August. He had been working as a judge advocate helping Iraqi law enforcement prosecute terrorists and insurgents, he said.

    Since his return to the United States, he had been in and out of the District Attorney's office before he returned full time at the end of last month.

    Assistant District Attorney Lloyd Drager took Salazar's place at the head of the Española office in his absence, Drager said.

    Drager has since been transferred to the First Judical District Attorney's office Santa Fe office. He is working in the intake division, he said, screening cases to decide which should go before a grand jury.

    Salazar said he was pleased with the way the office functioned in his absence.

    Salazar said picking up in the middle of cases that were opened while he was gone has been stressful so far — but not compared to the work he was doing in Iraq.

    "It's hard coming back because of certain experiences over there — to kind of reacclimate and get used to being back in the office again," Salazar said.

    Salazar has also returned to the campaign trail. The prosecutor is running against city of Española Attorney Spence Pacheco and Assistant District Attorney Joe CampBell for District Attorney in the First Judicial District in next June's Democratic primary.

    The position is currently held by Henry Valdez, who has announced he will step down after four terms at the end of next year. The office prosecutes serious crimes in Rio Arriba, Santa Fe and Los Alamos counties.

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