Home News Local News Police recruit charged with child solicitation; RPD chief ‘disgusted’ with officer’s alleged...

Police recruit charged with child solicitation; RPD chief ‘disgusted’ with officer’s alleged behavior

0
Alonso Barrientos, second from right, is sworn in by RPD Chief Phil Smith next to Cassandra Juarez and Eric Ebright on Oct. 19, joining the police force. About a month later, on Friday, Barrientos was arrested and charged with two counts of child solicitation. (RPD Photo)

A recruit officer from the Roswell Police Department has been arrested and charged on two counts of child solicitation by an electronic communication device.

According to a criminal complaint by RPD detective Michael Burkowski, an internal affairs investigator received a call alleging that 25-year-old Alonso Barrientos was involved in a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy.

“The caller stated that he wanted to file a report on an officer that was having sex with (the caller’s) little brother, who is 14 years old,” Burkowski wrote. “(He) provided a phone number and stated he had pictures relating to the incident.”

According to a press release from the Roswell Police Department issued Monday afternoon, the alleged inappropriate communications were sent from Barrientos’ personal cellphone.

Burkowski was able to make copies of the images, which included a profile picture from, Grindr, the geosocial networking and dating app directed toward gay and bisexual men. The photo itself wasn’t of Barrientos, but a New Mexico Department of Public Safety firearms target.

“I was able to recognize this qualification target because I was the firearms instructor that qualified him just a couple weeks prior to the investigation,” the detective wrote. “The next image I viewed was the profile information of the same user.”

The profile displayed a 25-year-old Hispanic male with the username, “Lets Chill.”

Another image was a screenshot of a message sent to Lets Chill, which read, “I’m 15 i reported u to the Sargent im going to talk about your badge and gun and handcuffs you sent me I screenshoted it good luck.”

The caller also sent an image to the internal affairs investigator of Barrientos during a swearing-in ceremony. The caller said, “He’s on the left.”

After the investigator clarified by saying, “The one on the left is the one who had sex with your brother?” The caller replied, yes.

The investigating detective uncovered evidence that led to a second similar criminal charge involving a separate victim believed to be a juvenile boy, who claimed in electronic communications with Barrientos to be in his early teens. In his communications with the second boy, investigators said Barrientos claimed to be 17 years old.

Burkowski was able to identify the alleged initial victim as a student from a local middle school.

An RPD sergeant conducted an initial interview with Barrientos, where he was informed of the allegations of a sexual relationship between him and a 14-year-old boy.

Barrientos denied any sexual relationship with any children and added that he was unfamiliar with the alleged victim’s name, according to the criminal complaint.

Barrientos, however, did tell authorities that he did use Grindr as a means to meet up with other men and engage with them in physical encounters, but not with minors.

Barrientos also spoke of an instance where he picked up one user from the app and took them to a park to engage in sexual activity. Barrientos told police he did not remember the person. Previous messages between the two had been deleted.

Barrientos gave police consent to search his personal cellphone.

Barrientos also stated he had been working at the middle school since Oct. 23.

On Nov. 1, a teacher from the middle school overheard a conversation where two boys were associating Barrientos with pedophilia.

“(The teacher) confronted the two students about the statement and they said that officer Barrientos has been sending inappropriate messages to their friend,” the detective wrote.

The teacher was told that the students’ friend, about 13 or 14 years old, had been asked by “that new officer,” Barrientos, to share erotic images.

According to Monday’s news release from the RPD, after the department had received information from the middle school teacher on Nov. 2 regarding accusations made by students, the RPD began an investigation. Barrientos was placed on administrative leave the same day.

Barrientos’ employment with RPD was terminated Friday, the day of his arrest.

When the former officer was asked if he recognized an image of the alleged victim, he said, “I don’t know,” according to the criminal complaint.

The complaint further states, based off of text messages, Barrientos had been asked by his 15-year-old sister, also a student at the local middle school, to leave her friends alone.

“(The sister) said she does think that the way Alonso sometimes talks to her friends is weird,” the detective wrote. “She has gotten upset with him about it in the past.”

Barrientos was asked if he knew it is inappropriate for an adult or a police officer to be having sexual conversations by police.

He said he knew it was inappropriate, according to the criminal complaint.

On Friday evening, Barrientos was placed under arrest at his home following the two-week investigation. Barrientos was booked into the Chaves County Adult Detention Center.

The RPD said Barrientos had worked for the department as a police service aide for nearly two and a half years and was training to become a police officer.

“He was in the early stages of his training, with the title of recruit officer on probationary employment status,” the department said.

RPD Chief Philip Smith said he was “disgusted” with the former recruit’s alleged conduct.

“I want to assure the Roswell community this criminal act was addressed immediately, the recruit was removed from service and the criminal investigation was initiated,” Smith said. “It matters not who the individual is, the Roswell Police Department holds all accountable and those who are employed by the Roswell Police Department are held to the highest levels of accountability. The scales of justice are blind and fair, and the Roswell Police Department’s standard is to always seek fair and unbiased justice as we serve and protect our community.”

The investigation has led detectives to believe there may be additional victims. The RPD encouraged anyone who may know a potential victim to contact Burkowski at 575-624-6770.

The case is currently assigned to Judge E.J. Fouratt in Chaves County Magistrate Court.

Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.