Yuma Sun

Judge continues hearing in Walnut Ave. drug case

- BY JAMES GILBERT Sun STAFF WRITER James Gilbert can be reached at jgilbert@yumasun.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ Ysjamesgil­bert or on Twitter @Ysjamesgil­bert.

Instead of a trial date being set as expected, a hearing Wednesday for a woman charged in a drug case was continued.

Attorney Paul Abatte, when asking that the hearing be reschedule­d, explained to the court that although the case has dragged on, he is still not ready to set a trial date yet.

The main reason, he said, was that he had finally received an affidavit of the search warrant in the case and his client’s name is not on it, so he will be filing a written motion for suppressio­n.

Abatte represents Mercedes Ruiz, who has been charged with possession of a dangerous drug, possession of a narcotic drug for sale, and two counts of possession of drug parapherna­lia.

She has also been charged with a narcotic drug violation and remains in custody at the Yuma County jail on a combined $35,000 bond.

Another reason for asking for the 30 to 45-day continuanc­e, Abatte added, is that a new prosecutor has been assigned to his client’s case and he needs to meet with the person to make sure that the two plea offers previously extended to his client are still available.

Yuma County Superior Court Judge David Haws granted Abatte’s request but stated that he wanted to set a trial date or conduct a change of plea at Ruiz’s next hearing.

“I want the next hearing to be meaningful,” Haws said.

Ruiz’s next hearing has been set for 8:30 a.m. on April 12.

She was arrested in October 2022 when members of the Yuma County Narcotics Task Force (YCNTF) served a search warrant at a residence in the 1800 block of Walnut Avenue.

Also arrested and charged in the incident was Ricky Smith, who was the target of the search warrant.

When YCNTF members searched the house, with the assistance of Yuma County Sheriff’s Office canine Aisha, they found approximat­ely 810 multi-colored counterfei­t M30 pills containing fentanyl, 10.3 grams of methamphet­amine, $2,080 in U.S. currency and items of parapherna­lia indicative of street sales.

The fentanyl had an estimated street value of $6,480, while the methamphet­amine was estimated to be worth $206 when sold on the streets.


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