Neighbors finger drug suspects


The watchful eyes of neighbors and astute detective work by a rookie police dog led to four arrests at the recently-opened Valley Oaks Home apartment complex on Lyon Street, during two separate police visits on Tuesday.

Sonoma Police Sgt. Dave Thompson said law enforcement was alerted Tuesday morning after neighbors reported suspicious activity and a strange vehicle at the affordable housing unit. Upon arrival at about 10:30 a.m., police found Yadira Bojorquez, 25, of Boyes Hot Springs, sitting in the passenger seat of the suspected sedan. A search of the vehicle uncovered two Ziplock bags containing methamphetamine. Bojorquez was arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance, and taken to the Sonoma County Jail where bail was set at $10,000.

Just three hours later, at about 1:30 p.m., neighbors called police back to the 43-unit apartment complex with another report of suspicious activity. Thompson said shortly after deputies got out of their car, they heard a loud clatter from the Dumpster. Deputies investigated and found that Banessa Soto Hernandez, 26, of Windsor, had thrown a knife into the garbage. Hernandez was already on probation with terms that forbade her from possessing a weapon, so she was charged with a felony probation violation. After being booked into the Sonoma County Jail, bail was set for $20,000.

Deputies then noticed a suspicious man standing by a silver pick-up truck.

Police searched the vehicle and found the man was in possession of one pound of marijuana, a misdemeanor offense. The man was cited and released.

Finally, police – along with their brand new recruit, a police dog named Dickie – went to the apartment of Jose Torres-Navarro, 27, a resident of Valley Oaks. Thompson said police had received numerous calls regarding Torres-Navarro and suspicious activity at his apartment.

“There was just a lot of traffic going in and out of that apartment, the neighbors had made a lot of complaints about it,” Thompson said. “In this case, the neighbors were right.”

When asked by police, Torres-Navarro consented to a search of his apartment, and at first, everything seemed to be in order. Then Dickie alerted his handlers. High on a shelf – higher than any of the deputies could reach – Dickie smelled out a bag that police found to contain methamphetamine.

“The credit goes to Dickie, it was a great find on his part,” Thompson said. “It’s amazing what these dogs can do.”

He also credits the neighbors – whose diligence kept police coming back to Valley Oaks.

“They have a nice little neighborhood watch over there,” Thompson noted. “We saw a lot of young families. I don’t think these neighbors will stand for that (crime).”

Torres-Navarro was arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance and taken to the Sonoma County Jail. On Wednesday, Torres-Navarro and Bojorquez had bailed out, while Hernandez remained in custody.

The Satellite Affordable Housing Associates  confirmed that Torres-Navarro will be evicted from Valley Oaks Home. An official said eviction proceedings had begun before the police activity on Tuesday. As more than 400 people applied for the 43-units, the apartment will quickly be re-rented to the next eligible individual on the waiting list. Find out more atsahahomes.org.