Two sheriff's deputies checked for secondary exposure to fentanyl

Dec. 27—Two Santa Fe County sheriff's deputies were exposed to fentanyl smoke Tuesday afternoon during an operation to find and arrest suspects in the slaying of 26-year-old Adan Ponce-Galdeano.

This is the second time deputies have been exposed to the drug in the past eight days while working the sprawling homicide case.

Sheriff Adan Mendoza said the deputies were treated at the Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center following the incident and "will be fine."

"This exposure is a risk that law enforcement is faced [with] now, especially with the abundance of fentanyl out on the streets," Mendoza said. "The sheriff's office will be assessing what steps we need to take to make sure that our deputies are protected in the future from these types of exposures."

Doctors and medical professionals say it's unlikely to overdose from indirect or brief exposure to opioids.

The sheriff said deputies were hoping to find Michael Sweeney, 30, and Edgar Herrera 31, at the Sangre De Cristo Apartments on Espinacitas Street on Tuesday but did not.

Both men have been charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and tampering with evidence, while Sweeney also has been charged with an open count of murder, according to online court records.

Three deputies were similarly exposed to fentanyl smoke on Dec. 20 when they arrested Angelo Martinez, 27, for his alleged involvement in Ponce-Galdeano's death. He has been charged with an open count of murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and tampering with evidence, according to online court records.

"Obviously, working on this homicide — which we know is drug related — these suspects are running with that type of crowd," Mendoza said.

The sheriff added secondary exposure to fentanyl has not been a common occurrence for deputies in the past. However, he said his office will be looking to institute safeguards to ensure their safety, including the use of KN95 face masks when entering a residence where fentanyl use is suspected.

"That's an immediate response, and then we'll look at other options to see if there's something that is more appropriate or can be safer for our deputies," Mendoza said.