YIR Part 1

The first four months of 2022 saw a rapid rise, followed by a just-as-rapid fall of COVID-19 cases in Santa Cruz County. Meanwhile, federal law enforcement began to move on an investigation into an alleged bribery scheme involving the former county assessor, a large property owner and a local business consultant.

Jan. 1: New year begins with surge in COVID-19 infections in local area


As the number COVID-19 infections skyrocketed in Santa Cruz County at the start of the year, the community also faced a shortage of test kits, as illustrated by this sign posted at the Mariposa Community Health Center testing site in Nogales in January.

Suspect shot

Nogales police officers gesture to the area behind a Court Street home where a suspect was shot Thursday morning, Jan. 13, after allegedly firing at police.


These images allegedly show Nogales-based business consultant Luis Manuel Flores delivering a bribe to then- County Assessor Felipe Fuentes on behalf of a local property owner. According to federal prosecutors, the images show, clockwise, from top left: Flores signaling to the assessor how much the official had asked for to fix the property owner’s tax assessment (one “milanesa,” or $1,000), then signaling how much the property owner was giving him ($2,000), handing over an envelope containing $2,000 in cash, and signaling how much the property owner was willing to give the assessor ($3,000) to run for re-election.


Officials from the local, state and federal levels shovel symbolic dirt to mark the start of a sewer line replacement project on Friday, Jan. 28, in Rio Rico.


Donna Jackson-Houston and Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino, first and second from left, help cut the ribbon Saturday, Jan. 29, on a weekend-long commemoration of the Nogales Buffalo Soldiers.


Angelina Coil, a fifth-grade student at Sonshine Christian School, displays the first-place trophy she won at the 2022 Santa Cruz County Spelling Bee on Friday, Feb. 11.


Members of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office stand at attention outside Martinez Funeral Chapels on Monday, Feb. 14, after the hearse carrying the body of Deputy Guillermo Vasquez arrived from Mexico.


Jesse James Octavio-Callejo of Rio Rico High School is declared the Division III state champion in his weight class at the state championship tournament on Saturday, Jan. 19, in Phoenix.

Trucks crowd

State and local officials gather for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, March 11, in celebration of two newly unveiled flyover ramps connecting I-19 and Mariposa Road.


A boy gets friendly instruction during a binational basketball camp offered March 26 by the Phoenix Suns and municipal governments of Nogales, Ariz. and Nogales, Sonora.

Back shot

The Nogales mayor and council interviewed two city manager finalists on Thursday afternoon, Feb. 24, at City Hall. They were Edward Dickie, the town manager of Dewey-Humboldt, Ariz.; and Gerald Flannery of Centennial, Colo., Seen here, Dickie answers questions as Mayor Arturo Garino and Councilman Jose “Joe” Diaz look on.

Swear in

Octavio Gradillas, Jr. is sworn in as a City of Nogales councilmember Thursday afternoon, April 7, a day after the mayor and council unanimously approved his appointment.

Felipe Fuentes

Former County Assessor Felipe Fuentes, seen here at a candidate forum in 2012, pleaded guilty at federal court on April 22 to taking bribes.


Eric Mingus, son of Charles Mingus, speaks next to a granite etching of his father during the dedication of the Mingus Memorial Park in Nogales on Saturday, April 23.

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