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Fingerprints to ID drug suspect

by Sheila Gardner
Nevada Appeal News Service

Douglas County officials are awaiting fingerprints to determine if a suspect in a methamphetamine seizure is who he says he is.

The suspect, Leo Osorio-Cahavez, denied in court Wednesday that he is Matias Mendoza-Espinoza.

Cahavez, 28, and four others were arrested Feb. 17 in an Indian Hills drug sting where officers recovered a half-pound of methamphetamine with a street value of $25,000.

Cahavez is in Douglas County Jail on $25,000 cash bail.

He is charged with two counts of trafficking in a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

Prosecutor Dina Salvucci said she had information from the FBI and Immigration and Naturalization Services that Osorio-Cahavez was an alias for Mendoza-Espinoza.

The suspect’s lawyer, Tod Young, said he had not seen the FBI report and that his client didn’t have to respond to Judge Jim EnEarl’s attempt to question him under oath as to his identity.

“He’s advised the court what his name is,” Young said. “He’s not required to do that under oath.”

EnEarl rescheduled a preliminary hearing to Friday to determine if there is enough evidence against Osorio-Cahavez to let the charges stand.

The suspect has denied the allegations.

EnEarl refused to lower the suspect’s bail or make it bondable.

“Given that we don’t even know who he is, and that there is an INS hold, and he’s failed to appear twice in Carson City, the bail stands,” EnEarl said.

Salvucci said after the hearing that the correct identity is crucial for everything from record keeping to sentencing.

“If he actually is the other person, Mr. Mendoza-Espinoza, that person has a criminal history. That would impact sentencing if he was found guilty,” Salvucci said.

“I am advised Mr. Mendoza-Espinoza has been deported more than once. If that person is in our custody, the agency that does deporting would want to know that,” Salvucci said.

She said fingerprints would be compared under the two names to determine the identity.