Arrest leads to tug of war over control of jail

Arrest leads to tug of war over control of jail

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Bulletin report
What started with the arrest of the director of the Doña Ana County Detention Center for fraud transformed into a tug of war about who actually controls the jail.

More clarification could come Friday, Dec. 18 in a 4 p.m. hearing before Third Judicial District Court Judge Manuel Arrieta.

On Tuesday, Dec. 8, the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s office arrested Christopher Barela, the detention center’s director, and Sheriff Enrique Vigil took control of the center.

Later in the day, though, after the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners met, the board obtained a temporary restraining order from Judge Arrieta to remove Vigil from control of the jail. County Manager Julia Brown gave the order to Vigil who turned over control to the county.

The County and Sheriff’s office are now scheduled to appear before Arrieta.

In its petition filed with the court, Doña Ana County reports it has hired a jail administrator “to operate the jail with the assistance of trained staff organized under the county manager and independent from the sheriff.”

Arrieta ruled “The sheriff’s office may be on the premises to conduct criminal investigations, interview witnesses, secure evidence relating to the investigation of C. Barela, transport prisoners and similar authorized duties of the sheriff’s department.”

Barela, is charged with fraud related to use of the inmate welfare fund.

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