DOUGLAS — A former Douglas cop who remains the focus of a federal inquiry was dating a known drug dealer from Agua Prieta and partying with at least one individual whose family members are associated with the narcotics trade in the Sonoran city, a lengthy internal affairs investigation released by police shows.
The 110-page Douglas Police investigation also reveals former officer Miguel Gutierrez was arrested and spent a few hours in an Agua Prieta jail in October 2019 after he was accused of beating a car wash employee — four of the man’s teeth were knocked out — and destroying the man’s vehicle. The incident occurred after a night of drinking at an Agua Prieta bar, the investigation shows.
According to the investigation, Gutierrez was released from the Agua Prieta jail after paying $4,000.
The Douglas Police inquiry alludes to a lengthy FBI query into Gutierrez for his association with the drug dealers, even after he was told to stop. That entire report was redacted from the documents released to the Herald/Review.
Douglas Police Chief Kraig Fullen learned of the bar and jail debacle after he was contacted by Agua Prieta Police Chief Marcus Ornelas in October 2019. The latter told Fullen that Gutierrez had been involved in offenses there that were the equivalent of aggravated assault, kidnapping, criminal damage and home invasion in the U.S.
The man who was beaten had left the bar before Gutierrez and his associates. He struck not only Gutierrez’s vehicle, but two others as he exited the club. The man did not stop, leaving three damaged cars in his wake.
Gutierrez, who had paid the security guard at the bar to protect his Chevy Tahoe, learned from the guard where the man who rammed the cars worked and forced the security guard to find the individual, the investigation shows.
Ornelas told Fullen he had done whatever he could to lessen the blow for Gutierrez by getting him to pay for the damages on the victim’s vehicle, and asked Fullen to give Gutierrez some “leniency” since he was a police officer. Ornelas stated he did not think Gutierrez would fare well in a Mexican prison if he was convicted of the assault.
The accusations were not sustained after the beating victim recanted, saying he was not sure Gutierrez was his assailant.
Interestingly, the victim was employed at a car wash owned by the father of Gutierrez’s close friend, the investigation shows. The father of his friend is a known drug dealer in Agua Prieta, as is the friend’s uncle, the investigation shows.
It’s unclear whether Gutierrez ever got his money back from Agua Prieta authorities.
Meanwhile, little is known concerning the FBI investigation into Gutierrez. The police department redacted the entire federal inquiry from the internal affairs investigation packet that was released to the Herald/Review. When the newspaper contacted the FBI, a spokeswoman referred the Herald/Review to the police department.
In an email Thursday, Douglas Police spokeswoman Officer Jamilette Barrios sent the newspaper a copy of an admonition of sorts from the FBI that prohibits the law enforcement agency from releasing the information. It also instructs police to redact the information if it is released.
What is known is the FBI investigation concerns corruption and Gutierrez’s involvement with known drug dealers in Agua Prieta, even after he was supposedly warned to stop associating with them.
According to the investigation, the woman Gutierrez was seeing drove a Chevy Avalanche that contained 199 brick-sized packages of marijuana concealed inside the vehicle through the Douglas Port of Entry in 2018. The car was abandoned in the Food City parking lot. The drugs were discovered after the vehicle was taken to the Port of Entry and a drug-sniffing dog detected the pot, the investigation states.
The night he was accused of beating the car wash employee and destroying the man’s car, Gutierrez was with the son of the Agua Prieta drug dealer and others, the investigation shows. The inquiry also revealed that the father of Gutierrez’s friend — the owner of the car wash — cannot enter the U.S. because he tried to bribe U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at the Douglas Port of Entry.
When questioned about the woman by one of his superiors, Gutierrez attempted to minimize his relationship, referring to her as just another “piece of (expletive),” the investigation shows. He also stated that “women are my downfall” and that he had learned his lesson.
The FBI probe against Gutierrez was launched in 2019. During a recent hearing of the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, the panel discussed Gutierrez’s case briefly, saying that Gutierrez became the object of an FBI investigation in 2019 after investigators learned he was passing law enforcement information to members of a drug-trafficking organization. Authorities said Gutierrez was aware the female he was linked to was a member of the drug organization and that the woman was driving a vehicle being used specifically in the drug organization’s dealings.
According to the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, the FBI has not charged Gutierrez with a crime.
In April 2020, Fullen sent Gutierrez a notice of his intent to fire the officer, who had worked at the Douglas Police Department since September 2016. Gutierrez resigned shortly thereafter.