BERNALILLO COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies took down an alleged drug and prostitution ring on Thursday, just yards away from a kid’s bike park.
“I had no idea, I had no idea that was going on,” said neighbor Amy Swapp.
About two dozen deputies busted in on several apartments near Second and Alameda NW Thursday just before 10:00 a.m.
“It was a surprise, they don’t know that we’re coming,” said Detective Amy Dudewicz with the Special Victims Unit at BCSO. “We don’t want them to know we’re coming because we’re fearful of them possibly arming themselves and coming after us.”
Deputies say women were placing ads for sexual services on the Internet. Most of the business was done at several apartments at the North Valley complex. That building was rigged with security cameras.
Deputies arrested Coleen Blagg and charged her with two counts of promoting prostitution. At least two other men and a woman were handcuffed and interviewed. A BCSO spokesman says more arrests and more charges could follow after the investigation is complete.
Investigators say Blagg was the madam in charge of the sex ring. She’s accused of keeping women in prostitution by offering them heroin.
Detectives found several crack pipes and traces of heroin in the apartments they raided. A search warrant will allow investigators to look through phones and computers for more evidence.
“There was actually prostitution happening here on the property as well as child exploitation, human trafficking, narcotics activity. Where (there’s) one, there’s all these other things involved which is why we had such a large amount of people here today,” Dudewicz said.
Deputies say there is at least one child living at the property, although they didn’t find any children at the time of the bust.
Detectives say scenes like the one the busted Thursday are common; the days of old turn-of-the-century brothels are long gone, but high tech ones are everywhere.
“The Internet is making everything easier,” Dudewicz said.
Neighbors had no idea the prostitution and drug ring was going on across the street from a dirt bike park and fire station.
“In the valley we’re very relaxed and nobody kind of sticks their nose in everybody’s business, then sometimes things are going on that we’re not aware of. Sometimes you just go your own way,” Swapp said.