ST. GEORGE – A second man was arrested Thursday following an investigation into several graffiti incidents in Washington County believed to be connected to a California gang. On top of the graffiti charges, the man was also charged with two counts of drug distribution.
Over the past few months, several incidents of graffiti have been reported throughout St. George and Washington County, depicting gang and tagger style writing, according to a probable cause statement written by St. George Police Detective Brad Coleman in support of the arrest.
The St. George Police Department Fraudulent Identity and Security Threat Unit has been investigating the series of graffiti incidents. During the course of the investigation, detectives developed suspect information through witnesses and victims.
One of the graffiti incidents was reported at a service station in St. George where video surveillance caught images of some suspects during the same time frame the graffiti was applied, the statement said.
One of those suspects was identified as 18-year-old Riley Guerrero, a documented Varrio Brown Familia gang member out of Santa Clarita, California, according to the statement, and he was arrested on April 16.
Evidence was allegedly obtained that Guerrero, along with 20-year-old Joshua James Carter, tagged several locations with graffiti.
Because Carter had two outstanding warrants out of Washington City Justice Court for his arrest – one carrying a bail amount of $1,246 for retail theft, and the other with a bail amount of $523 for drug-related charges – detectives were able to arrest him when he was located Thursday near 700 E. St. George Boulevard in St. George.
As detectives attempted to arrest Carter, Coleman said in his statement, he resisted their efforts to take him into custody by refusing to obey multiple commands to comply.
“He was advised he was under arrest and given specific directions to comply, which he refused to do at least twice,” Coleman said. “Detectives had to grab a hold of his arms and place them behind his back to handcuff him. He resisted against officers and tried to pull away from their grasp despite being told he was under arrest and needed to comply.”
During a search of Carter’s person after his arrest, detectives located a plastic baggy containing methamphetamine, a plastic baggy containing marijuana, a pipe, several marijuana related items such as pipes and bongs, a syringe, a digital scale and numerous small zip-close baggies, according to the statement of probable cause.
At the police department, Carter was questioned about the graffiti incidents and drugs, and, according to the statement, he admitted the drugs and drug paraphernalia belonged to him and that he sells the drugs.
“Graffiti writing on (Carter’s) clothing and items in his possession when he was arrested are consistent with several incidents of graffiti reported in the St. George City area over the past months,” Coleman said.
Police also obtained statements from eyewitnesses that lent further support for Carter’s arrest, according to the probable cause statement.
Carter was booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
He was charged with a second-degree felony for methamphetamine possession with the intent to distribute, a third-degree felony for marijuana possession with the intent to distribute, three class A misdemeanors for graffiti, and three class B misdemeanors for graffiti, interfering with an arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Carter’s drug-related charges were enhanced because he was located in a drug-free zone – within 1,000 feet of Cinnamon Hills school, a youth crisis center.
Judge Michael Westfall, of the 5th District Court, ordered a $15,000 cash-only bail for Carter’s release pending trial.
Carter was found indigent by the court during his initial court appearance Friday and will be represented by court-appointed attorney Aric Cramer. He is scheduled to make his next court appearance on May 4.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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