An undercover narcotics officer nearly died on Friday after he was shot by an Albuquerque police officer during a drug bust over $60 of methamphetamine.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, Police Chief Gorden Eden announced on Saturday that the undercover officer was in critical condition. However, Eden did not name any of the officers who were involved in the shooting.
A criminal complaint identified detectives Holly Garcia and Jacob Grant as two undercover officers who were assigned to the case.
The complaint said that Garcia had attempted to buy $60 worth of meth “shards" from Damien Bailey. Garcia reportedly drove with two suspects to an Econo Lodge, where she purchased the meth.
The shooting occurred after Garcia drove to a nearby McDonald's and gave the signal for officers to move in for the drug bust. An undercover officer was shot multiple times, police said. Witnesses reported hearing around five gunshots.
Police declined to detail what went wrong during the drug bust, and they did not say why the officer opened fire. But the criminal complaint said nothing about the suspects being armed.
“Undercover narcotics work is probably some of the most dangerous work that we do in law enforcement,” Eden said on Saturday. “Due to the nature of those undercover operations it’s impractical for those narcotics officers, those narcotics detectives, to wear body armor. It’s very impractical for them to wear on-body cameras.”
Albuquerque police officer Tanner Tixier told the Albuquerque Journal that the department was being criticized for going after low-level drug offenders.
"We’re getting some push back because [the investigation] was for $60 of meth,” Tixier noted. “But that’s how these investigations work. You start with $20, $40, $60 buys. You can’t just go out and buy five pounds of meth.”
Eden insisted that the officer who shot his colleague felt "devastated." He said that the lieutenant had been placed on administrative leave while the incident was investigated.
The undercover narcotics officer's life was saved thanks to paramedics, Eden said. He was reportedly in critical condition at University of New Mexico Hospital.