Updated Sept. 10 at 2:30 p.m.
A fugitive wanted on a traffic case out of Taos Magistrate Court led law enforcement on a high-speed chase through Ranchos de Taos Monday morning (Sept. 9) that ended after the man turned into an arroyo and flipped his car on its side.
Taos County Sheriff's Deputies arrested Joey Mares after a gold Chevy SUV he was driving overturned in the deep ditch off West Romero Road in Llano Quemado. A minor was also in the vehicle when it crashed, according to Undersheriff Steve Miera, who said he could not identify that individual due to their age.
According to a statement of probable cause filed Sept. 10, the chase began after a deputy recognized Mares in the gold vehicle on Straight Arrow Road. The deputy had been told that Mares had a warrant for his arrest, but when he and another deputy attempted to stop him, Mares allegedly sped away.
Mares is well known to law enforcement for a criminal record that includes a 2017 felony conviction for trafficking methamphetamine, according to court records. He was charged in an attempted murder case last year, but was released to a drug treatment program called Steel Bridge in Albuquerque on April 12. The 8th Judicial District Attorney's Office agreed to drop the case in exchange for Mares' agreement to go to treatment.
On Aug. 30, after he returned to Taos, however, Mares was charged with four petty misdemeanors in the outstanding traffic case.
Additional deputies were called to assist with Monday's pursuit as Mares reached speeds as high as 75 miles per hour, according to deputies who were updating dispatchers on the progress of the chase. The pursuit wended its way through neighborhoods in Ranchos and Llano Quemado. Throughout the chase, Mares allegedly failed to stay in his lane and ran through more than one intersection without stopping.
On West Romero Road, deputies followed Mares down into the dirt arroyo, which is more than 20 feet deep. Mares then attempted to drive up the steep side of the ditch, "but bogged down and was not able to make it," according to the statement of probable cause.
The deputies left their vehicles and instead continued the pursuit on foot when the juvenile passenger put his hands out a window of the gold Chevy and shouted that they "were done."
But, as the deputies approached, Mares allegedly began backing his vehicle down the embankment of the arroyo, forcing them to "dive out of the way to avoid being run over ...," the case alleges. Mares then continued driving east down the ditch, but after making a sharp turn, his vehicle toppled over on its right side, bringing an end to the pursuit.
Deputies pulled Mares and the juvenile from the vehicle, but noticed Mares had placed a "small pink plastic bag" in his mouth that deputies believe contained fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. The bag was to be sent for testing to confirm that it contained the suspected substance. Deputies also say they found a rifle magazine containing live .223 caliber rounds on the ground near the vehicle. Looking in the vehicle's window, they said they could see an assault-style rifle.
After obtaining a search warrant for the vehicle, deputies also found two other plastic bags that tested positive for methamphetamine, "various smoking devices," aluminum foil and a weight scale. Examining the rifle seen inside the vehicle, deputies determined that the weapon had been reported stolen.
Mares was charged with 10 felonies related to the chase: a second offense of trafficking methamphetamine; two counts of aggravated assault upon a peace officer with a deadly weapon; abuse of a child; contributing to the delinquency of a minor; aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer; possession of a controlled substance; tampering with evidence; receipt, transportation or possession of a firearm or destructive device by vertain persons; and receiving stolen property.
Mares is set to appear in magistrate court on the new case on Sept. 12 at 1:30 p.m. before Judge Jeff Shannon.
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