Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sarah Johnsonís ex-boyfriend arrested

Bruno Santos allegedly sold half a pound of meth to undercover cop


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Bruno Santos, the former boyfriend of convicted murderer Sarah Johnson, is shown here in court in 2005 when he was charged with possession of methamphetamine. That case was dismissed, but Santos was arrested last Friday in Hailey for allegedly selling a half pound of meth to an undercover detective. Photo by Mountain Express

The former boyfriend of convicted murderer Sarah Johnson has been charged with drug trafficking in Blaine County for allegedly selling half a pound of methamphetamine to an undercover Idaho State Police detective.

Bruno Antonio Santos-Dominguez, more commonly known as Bruno Santos, was formally charged with trafficking in methamphetamine Monday in Blaine County Magistrate Court. He was arrested Friday in Hailey in a joint operation by ISP and the Blaine County Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Santos, 25, was originally a suspect in the 2003 murders of Johnson's parents but was never charged. Prosecutors claimed instead that Johnson killed her parents, Alan and Diane Johnson, because they had forbidden her to see Santos and because they planned to pursue the filing of statutory rape charges against him. At the time of the murders, Santos was 19 and Johnson was 16.

Johnson was convicted in 2005 of two counts of first-degree murder and is currently serving two life prison sentences without the possibility of parole.

Ketchum Police Chief Steve Harkins, director of the county Narcotics Enforcement Team, stated in a news release that an ISP undercover detective met with Santos and a man identified as Jose Guadalupe Benitez-Diaz, a 27-year-old Ogden, Utah, man, on Friday morning and arranged to buy a half pound of crystal meth for $13,500.

"The delivery occurred at approximately 11:45 a.m. at a construction site just off Woodside Boulevard," Harkins wrote. "Santos-Dominguez brought the methamphetamine to the undercover officer and was immediately arrested. The other suspect, Benitez-Diaz, was arrested a block away in a separate vehicle."

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Benitez-Diaz was also charged Monday with trafficking in methamphetamine. Both he and Santos remained incarcerated Tuesday in the Blaine County jail. The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has issued immigration detainers for both men, which indicates they are believed to be in the United States illegally.

Harkins' news release did not mention Santos' connection to Sarah Johnson.

On Monday, Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas described Santos as an "undocumented alien" and said he had been deported several times, most recently in March.

Thomas said Santos was "allowed to be in the United States during the Sarah Johnson trial under the supervision of local law enforcement as a result of a temporary-benefit-of-parole status issued by the federal government's immigration unit." He was deported to Mexico shortly after the trial.

Santos was also deported in March following an arrest in Hailey in January on a domestic battery charge. Thomas said that charge was dismissed after the victim "refused to testify and returned to Mexico prior to the trial."

Thomas said Santos "obviously returned illegally" to the United States prior to his arrest Friday.

Thomas said Santos' latest arrest has no bearing on the Johnson trial.

"I do not believe his participation in the trial is undermined in any way as a result of these current charges," Thomas said. "His testimony played a minor role in the Johnson case and these recent charges are completely unrelated to the murders of Alan and Diane Johnson that occurred over six years ago."

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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