After New Mexico State Police had an AR-15 and almost $21,000 in police gear stolen from them in a automotive housebreaking, they have been helped within the case from an unlikely ally — a serial shoplifter.

Detectives spent 4 straight days scouring for leads and reviewing surveillance footage within the seek for fellow Officer Robert Archuleta’s stolen gear earlier than receiving the tip.

In line with Officer Archuleta, who works on the NMSP’s tactical staff, he was getting in his automotive to begin the week on a Monday when he observed he had been robbed.

“However once I acquired in my unit this morning, I observed that my plate service wasn’t there,” he defined.

It wasn’t simply his tactical vest and the plate inside that have been gone. Additionally lacking was his AR-15, scope, laser goal pointer, bean bag shotgun, pole digicam, double flash bang, radio headset, handheld radio, handcuffs and ammunition.

In complete, the stolen gear was valued at $21,800.

After three days of looking, Albuquerque police obtained a tip from an unlikely supply — a serial shoplifter they only arrested.

The accused shoplifter, Jayden Wheeler, was interviewed by the 2 detectives on the case whereas sitting behind a police automotive in handcuffs.

He mentioned he had details about the case and wished to make a deal.

“Do you suppose in trade, I may stroll immediately?” Wheeler requested.

“Effectively, we’re not APD. We’re state police,” a detective replied.

“I can discuss to ’em, you realize, however that’s completely as much as you in your cooperation,” the opposite detective mentioned.

Wheeler determined to do the precise factor.

“OK. Both means, you realize, I’d wish to cooperate,” he mentioned. “I don’t need you to suppose that it’s simply driving on me having the ability to stroll.”

By Wheeler, detectives obtained the identify of the prime suspect — Brandon Hinds, a convicted felon referred to as “Cowboy.”

In line with Wheeler, Hinds requested him if he may cease by the Journey Lodge, the place he was residing. When he arrived, Hinds introduced the stolen gear with him and left a few of it in Wheeler’s resort room.

In line with Wheeler, Hinds confirmed up with an “AR-15, much less deadly shotgun, vest and flash grenade.”

Hinds apparently instructed Wheeler he was out “hitting automobiles” when he got here throughout the unlocked police car.

Wheeler then defined how Hinds bought the police weapons to a different felon named Aldo Vargas for medication and cash.

Wheeler then offered the detectives with the cellphone numbers and pictures of the 2 felons.

“You probably did a nasty*** factor immediately, bro. Simply freaking stick with it,” detectives instructed Wheeler. “Like, you’re getting a freaking dangerous man off the f***ing avenue. And hopefully, no person will get injured, you realize what I imply? I recognize that, bro. I do know all my guys do.”

Wheeler was ultimately let go by state police that evening as a result of they may not maintain him on a misdemeanor cost. Later that evening, police additionally discovered Archuleta’s police digicam within the resort room and corroborated Wheeler’s story.

After finding Vargas’ cousin Michael Arnold, police have been led to the Isleta Resort & On line casino Resort, the place they have been instructed Vargas was staying.

A SWAT staff took Vargas into custody whereas he was smoking fentanyl beside a toddler in his resort room.

 “Clearly, it is a huge deal. We don’t do that every single day. Go into motels, disrupt the entire order of the motels and all that for one thing small. So, I would like you to inform me the way you got here in possession of what you could have, all of the issues that you’ve, and the place I can discover this man at,” an NMSP officer instructed Vargas.

When Vargas refused to conform, detectives pushed tougher.

“The wheel’s about to f***ing fall off. That’s how drained we’re, bro. And we’ve been on it since. Like, we weren’t gonna cease. It’s our s***,” a detective instructed Vargas.

Vargas claimed that he didn’t pay Cowboy for the gadgets however was simply holding on to them for his cousin. He precisely directed detectives to trash luggage in a white automotive at his home that contained all of the gadgets in addition to the laser pointer and the radio.

Vargas was later charged with receiving stolen property and possessing a firearm as a felon.

Months later, police arrested Hinds for aggravated housebreaking within the case of Archuleta’s automotive, and later for brand new prices stemming from one other automotive housebreaking incident.

Wheeler was additionally arrested once more for shoplifting and drug prices months after failing to testify in opposition to Hinds.

It’s not clear if Archuleta was disciplined for leaving his automotive unlocked.

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By cs