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Police: Ex-NM deputy hoarded lost evidence in home

LAS CRUCES – A former sheriff’s deputy in southern New Mexico was arrested Thursday on tampering with evidence charges after detectives say a cleaning crew found boxes of guns and case files at his foreclosed home.

Former Doña Ana County sheriff’s deputy Vincent Lopez was taken into custody following an investigation that began in May when the crew stumbled upon bags of evidence, firearms, ammunition and case files, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports.

On May 23, a crew went to clean a foreclosed home in Las Cruces to prepare the house for resale, police said. Authorities report that when the cleaners entered the house, they found boxes containing bags of police evidence and scattered pages of police case files.

The cleaning crew gathered some of the scattered paperwork into a box and called authorities.

Authorities said the piles of evidence in specific cases had never been entered into the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office evidence station.

When a Las Cruces officer arrived at the home, he found evidence – including a shotgun and black semi-automatic handgun with the bottom receiver, as well as boxes of case files – in a bedroom.

The officer looked through some of the case files and found that they were from Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office – specifically from cases Lopez worked, authorities said.

Lopez, 54, told Las Cruces detectives the evidence was related to a multiple-rape case and a hostile working environment at the sheriff’s office, according to court documents.

Las Cruces Police Sgt. Pete Skowronski also reports that he found some evidence near a fireplace that was full of ash, which raised concerns that some of the case files were being burned.

Lopez was charged with nine counts of tampering with public records and nine counts of tampering with evidence, and booked into the Doña Ana County Detention Center on a no-bond hold.

Online records don’t list an attorney for Lopez.