A Ranchos de Taos man accepted a plea agreement this month that resolved several outstanding drug-related cases filed against him in Taos County, including a drug trafficking and involuntary …
A Ranchos de Taos man accepted a plea agreement this month that resolved several outstanding drug-related cases filed against him in Taos County, including a drug trafficking and involuntary manslaughter case charging him with the death of a detainee who overdosed at the Taos County Adult Detention Center in 2016.
James Gallegos, 52, pleaded guilty to more than 20 counts, many of them drug-related, across a total of four cases filed from 2016 to 2017, but the charge related to the death of former jail detainee Jonathan Bourg was dismissed along with seven other counts.
According to the plea agreement, Gallegos faces a total maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment to be followed by two years of parole.
Bourg and Gallegos were both being held at the Taos County jail in July of 2016. Bourg, 29, had been incarcerated earlier that year on outstanding warrants, and Gallegos had been brought in on drug-related offenses.
Aware of his history of drug abuse and mental illness, jail employees had provided Bourg with anti-anxiety medications and recommended he be sent to a residential drug treatment center as soon as possible.
On the morning of July 28, 2016, the 29-year-old was found unresponsive on the floor of his cell. Medical investigators determined he had died of a heroin overdose.
Gallegos, a known drug trafficker, was charged with involuntary manslaughter that year related to Bourg’s death. He allegedly smuggled into the jail the drugs on which Bourg overdosed.
Another detainee was also found in possession of a small ball of heroin the day Bourg died, also believed to have been trafficked by Gallegos.
On the day before his death, Bourg’s parents had arranged for their son to be taken to a treatment center.
In late June this year, it was announced that two jailers at the detention center, Phillip Ortiz and Dominic Torrez, were charged with drug trafficking, bringing contraband into the jail and conspiracy. The charges against the two men were recently dismissed, however, according to Deputy District Attorney Ron Olsen, pending an indictment from a grand jury.
An investigation into drug trafficking at the detention center was also launched this year, leading to several paid suspensions of jail employees, including the facility’s director since 2016, Nelson Abeyta.
Bourg’s parents have filed a lawsuit against Taos County, alleging jail administrators and other employees knew dangerous drugs were entering the facility but failed to take proper preventive action or even participated in the sale of narcotics themselves. The case is pending.
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