Editor’s Note: This story was updated on June 9, 2023 to reflect the latest information about state and federal charges related to one of the two suspects.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Newly obtained police video shows the moments officers pulled up on a southwest Albuquerque car crash that eventually lead to a major fentanyl bust. The crash and drug bust happened last month on Bridge Boulevard near Isleta.
According to a federal search warrant filed by the FBI, agents seized 230,000 fentanyl pills and $130,000 in cash amid the February 9 crash. Two people were arrested, including 22-year old Jonathan Acuna and 42-year Edward Vallez.
The crash happened after a New Mexico State Police officer tried to pull over a white Dodge Durango SUV on Avenida Cesar Chavez near Broadway Boulevard. According to federal court documents, the officer was attempting to stop the car after he clocked it going 125 miles per hour on I-25 south.
After the officer turned on his lights and sirens, video shows the white SUV pulling to the right while slowing down. The SUV eventually took off from the attempted traffic stop, speeding west on Avenida Cesar Chavez toward the Rio Grande.
Roughly 60 seconds later, State Police video shows the SUV in a heap, wrecked in oncoming traffic lanes. The SUV crashed into a building and a cinder block wall on Bridge Boulevard near Isleta. Police detained Acuna at the scene. According to federal court documents, a bystander held Acuna at gunpoint until officers got there.
The second suspect, Vallez, wasn’t immediately found at the crash scene. Officers found him roughly an hour later about a quarter-mile away from the crash.
Vallez is being held in Albuquerque’s Metropolitan Detention Center on a federal warrant. In June 2023, an unsealed criminal complaint indicated Vallez is facing one count of possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl. Vallez’s home was one of 15 properties searched by the feds in September 2022 amid an investigation by the FBI’s Violent Gang Task Force for violent crime in aid of racketeering and drug distribution.
Vallez was initially charged in state district court for the crash, accused of, in part, DWI, reckless driving. In April 2023, state prosecutors filed a nolle prosequi in the case, a common practice when defendants are facing charges for the same case in federal courts.
Acuna was arrested and eventually released on his own recognizance. He is facing state charges, accused of resisting, aiding or obstructing an officer, and leaving the scene of a crash.