$20,000 cash, heroin and Glock found in Ramirez’ room at troubled Sierra Vista apartment-hotel
police document names informants, drug users
SIERRA VISTA – One year and four days. That is how long Michael Andrew Ramirez -aka Killa Mike – was out of prison before being arrested November 19 by the Sierra Vista Police Department on charges that included possession of a narcotic for sale, possession of a firearm in commission of a drug crime, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Ramirez was taken into custody after a high-risk search warrant was executed at a room registered to him at the Regency Inn and Suites. According to court documents, police seized nearly $20,000 cash and $3,000 worth of heroin during the search. Authorities also discovered a loaded .40 caliber Glock model 27 handgun which Ramirez was prohibited from possessing due to prior felony convictions.
Eighteen days later Ramirez pleaded guilty in Cochise County Superior Court to one count of possession of a narcotic drug (heroin) for sale and one count of misconduct involving a weapon as part of aplea agreementnegotiated by prosecutor Valerie Aronoff of the Cochise County Attorney’s Office and defense attorney Cameron Udall.
Ramirez, age 42, was sentenced by judge James Conlogue to two prison terms on December 29 in a hearing that lasted less than ten minutes. Conlogue ordered Ramirez to serve 8.5 years on the drug charge and 2.5 years for the firearms charge. The sentences will be served concurrently (at the same time) rather than consecutively (one after the other).
Ramirez’ Facebook page indicates that “Mr Killa” had a birthday in early December.
Drug activity believed ongoing for a year
Ramirez was released from the Arizona Dept. of Corrections on November 15, 2015 after serving a two year sentence on a 2013 arrest for organized retail theft. He was on supervised parole until April 2016. However, court documents show Sierra Vista PD received multiple tips over the last year about Ramirez selling heroin and methamphetamine in the Sierra Vista area.
After the search, officer Branden Eaton submitted aprobable cause statementto the Sierra Vista Justice Court in which he noted several details about the investigation into Ramirez’s activities. The statement includes the names of several informants, suspected drug users, and other dealers believed to have connection to Ramirez.
Eaton also explained that the gun and $17,000 of the cash were found inside a safe in the room. Ramirez purportedly told investigators he had not held a job since getting out of prison but had been able to pay cash for his vehicles. He also acknowledged knowing the gun was in the room. However, Eaton noted Ramirez stopped talking once 39 packages of heroin were found inside a Cocoa Puffs cereal box.
In addition to his 2013 charge for retail theft, Ramirez has served prison stints of 2.5 years for a 1994 drug offense, three years for a 1996 drug offense, and one year for a 2005 drug paraphernalia offense. There is no mention in his recent plea agreement of whether Ramirez is expected to testify against any of his drug clients or suppliers.
Association with Tucson drug supplier
One of the informants mentioned in court documents told police that Ramirez was known to exchange drugs for firearms, which he would then take to Tucson. The same informant alleged Ramirez earned $120,000 in the past year by distributing and selling drugs. According to sergeant Marco Madrid, supervisor of the Sierra Vista PD’s community response team, Ramirez’s illegal drug sales appeared to be significant because he “managed to accumulate a large amount of proceeds.”
Sierra Vista police believe Ramirez has a “close association”with Armando “Mondo”Sollers, a Tucson man suspected of supplying narcotics to dealers in Sierra Vista.
Sollers was the subject of a year-long U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation that ended in September. On October 15 he was arrested by Arizona Dept. of Public Safety on drug charges and held in the PimaCounty jail on $1,500 bail. It is believed that Ramirez posted that bail.
When Sollers failed to appear for his November 2 arraignment the $1,500 bail was forfeited to Pima County Superior Court. An arrest warrant was also issued, requiring $5,500 bail if Sollers wanted out of jail pending trial. He was arrested on the warrant November 18 and released from jail November 19, the same day Ramirez was arrested in Sierra Vista. Sollers’ next hearing is January 4.
Drug deals transacted in Sierra Vista hotel rooms
Court records show Ramirez also sold drugs out of at least one other Sierra Vista hotel before moving to the Regency, which has been the site of several police calls and arrests this year. Officer Eaton’s probable cause statement indicates Ramirez moved to the Regency in early October. As part of the November 19 search police seized two vehicles registered in Ramirez’s name that listed the Regency’s North Carroll Drive address in Sierra Vista’s west end.
The 55-unit Regency property was previously known as the Carroll Drive Apartments and also a Rodeway Inn Hotel. It is currently owned by California United Bank but is operated by Allan K. Marshall of American Regency Suites LLC. Marshall, who lives in Pennsylvania, recently appointed Harold and Vicki Thornsberry as managers at the Regency, which offers rooms on a nightly, weekly, and long-term basis.
The Thornsberrys live on-site and closely monitor security cameras installed throughout the property. They have been cooperating with authorities to address illegal activities that went unchecked at the complex under the prior managers, James and Edith Hughes, who were recently convicted of various theft charges unrelated to the apartment-hotel. Harold Thornberry noted the Hughes were often away from the property while dealing with their legal issues.
It was that lack of on-site supervision, says neighbor Stu Levine, which led to “unfettered comings and goings at all hours.” Levine has lived two blocks from the property now known as the Regency for fifteen years and believes there is much less “night traffic” around the property and surrounding residential area since the new managers came on board.
Levine says he still sees a lot of police cars in the area, but they seem to be “patrolling our neighborhood instead of only showing up to arrest someone.”
Contact reporter Terri Jo Neff at 520-508-3660 and firstname.lastname@example.org