ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Then-Colfax County sheriff’s deputy Vidal Sandoval shook down drug traffickers he stopped on the highway by asking them, “You wanna go to jail? Or you wanna make a deal?”
In his transformation from cop to criminal, which began in 2014, Sandoval wore a bracelet bearing the image of the so-called patron saint of drug traffickers and hid $4,200 in cash in the tailpipe of his truck. He escorted a load of drugs through his northeastern New Mexico county for a $10,000 fee.
After nearly 20 years in law enforcement, Sandoval, 50, will now spend the next seven years in federal prison for his drug trafficking and theft – crimes that he committed while he was in uniform, wearing a badge and driving a sheriff’s patrol car.
He told Senior U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera at his sentencing hearing Thursday in Albuquerque that his conduct “made no sense.” He conceded that he had been “tempted by the money” and said he had disgraced his law enforcement agency, the public and his family.