Home Albuquerque Press Releases 2013 Twenty-Four Plead Guilty to Trafficking Drugs in Doña Ana County

Twenty-Four Plead Guilty to Trafficking Drugs in Doña Ana County

U.S. Attorney’s Office December 10, 2013
  • District of New Mexico (505) 346-7274

ALBUQUERQUE—Javier Castruita, 45, of Anthony, New Mexico, entered a guilty plea yesterday to cocaine trafficking charges in federal court in Las Cruces, New Mexico. His guilty plea resolves the last remaining case charged as a result of a multi-agency investigation that culminated in the filing of drug trafficking charges against 28 residents from Doña Ana County, New Mexico, and El Paso County, Texas, last spring.

Castruita and 27 others were charged in 12 criminal complaints with distributing cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana in and around southern Doña Ana County. The criminal complaints were unsealed on May 8, 2013, following a multi-agency arrest operation resulting in the arrests of 22 defendants. Five others subsequently were arrested, leaving one fugitive.

The charges against the defendants were the result of an intensive, four-month, multi-agency investigation led by the FBI’s Las Cruces Cross-Border Drug Violence Hybrid Squad and Southern New Mexico Gang Task Force that targeted known drug dealers in southern Doña Ana County. The U.S. Border Patrol and the Las Cruces-Doña Ana County Metro Narcotics Agency, which is composed of officers from the New Mexico State Police, the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office, and the Las Cruces Police Department, participated in the investigation. During the course of the investigation, officers oversaw approximately 40 covert drug buys and the purchase of five firearms from the defendants.

The investigation was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, a nationwide Department of Justice program that combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations.

Yesterday’s guilty plea was the 24th guilty plea entered by defendants arrested as a result of the investigation. The charges against one of the remaining three defendants were dismissed in support of his prosecution on more significant methamphetamine trafficking charges in the Western District of Texas. Charges against the other two were dismissed with leave to refile.

The cases were investigated by the FBI’s Las Cruces Cross-Border Drug Violence Hybrid Squad, the Las Cruces-Doña Ana County Metro Narcotics Agency, the U.S. Border Patrol, and the Dona Doña County Sheriff’s Office. They are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shaheen P. Torgoley and Sarah M. Davenport of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.

Case Summaries

Castruita and his two co-defendants Gloria Portillo Valdivia, 51, and Carlos Alberto Valdivia, 56, both of Anthony, New Mexico, were charged with cocaine trafficking offenses. Portillo Valdivia pled guilty on September 12, 2013, and was sentenced on December 4, 2013, to 10 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Valdivia pled guilty on October 4, 2013, under a plea agreement that requires the imposition of an 84-month prison sentence. Castruita, who pled guilty this morning, faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing.

Abel Romero, 29, of Anthony, New Mexico; Victor Cano, 30, of Anthony, New Mexico; and Jaime Cano, 30, of Canutillo, Texas, were charged with cocaine and marijuana trafficking offenses. Romero also was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Victor Cano pled guilty on November 7, 2013, under a plea agreement that requires the imposition of a sentence in the range of 30 to 37 months in prison. Jaime Cano also pled guilty on November 7, 2013, under a plea agreement that requires the imposition of a sentence in the range of 40 to 60 months in prison. On December 5, 2013, Romero pled guilty under a plea agreement that requires the imposition of a 131 month prison sentence.

Noe Perez-Rodriguez, 46, of Berino, New Mexico, and Larry Valles, Sr., 50, of Los Lunas, New Mexico, each pled guilty on September 12, 2013, to methamphetamine trafficking charges. At sentencing, each faces a sentence of not less than five years and not more than 40 years in prison.

Rudy Portillo, 54, and Isaiah Portillo, 20, both of Anthony, New Mexico, and Victor Leos, 53, of Anthony, Texas, were charged with heroin trafficking offenses. Isaiah Portillo and Leos entered guilty pleas on October 11, 2013, and October 24, 2013, respectively, and Rudy Portillo pled guilty on December 5, 2013. At sentencing, Rudy Portillo and Leos each faces a sentence of not less than five years and not more than 40 years in prison, and Isaiah Portillo faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Victor Alvarez, 43, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Benjamin Ochoa, 31, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, pled guilty to cocaine trafficking charges on October 31, 2013 and November 7, 2013, respectively. Each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing.

Daniel Arrieta, 38, of Anthony, New Mexico, pled guilty to a heroin trafficking charge on December 5, 2013, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing.

Michael Vega, 26, and Raul Martinez, 25, both of Anthony, New Mexico, were charged with cocaine trafficking offenses. Vega pled guilty on November 21, 2013, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing. The charges against Martinez were dismissed without prejudice on November 26, 2013.

John Eric Sapien, 25, of Anthony, New Mexico, pled guilty to a cocaine trafficking charge on September 20, 2013, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing.

Jose Salcido, 51, of Anthony, New Mexico, pled guilty to a cocaine trafficking charge and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing. The charges against his co-defendant Gerardo Garcia, 63, who was the sole fugitive, were dismissed following his deportation to Mexico.

Joey Martinez, 29, and Eloy Rios-Montoya, 40, both of Anthony, Texas, pled guilty to cocaine trafficking charges on September 5, 2013 and September 20, 2013, respectively. Each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing.

Freddy Sanchez-Ramirez, 56, of Anthony, New Mexico, and Roberto Andres Urquidi, 34, of Canutillo, Texas, pled guilty to heroin trafficking charges on September 20, 2013 and November 7, 2013, respectively. Each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing.

Jesus M. Baeza-Lascano, 44, of Anthony, New Mexico, pled guilty to a cocaine trafficking charge on July 23, 2013, and was sentenced to 10 months in prison on October 22, 2013. Baeza-Lascano, a Mexican national, will be deported after he completes his prison sentence. The charges against his co-defendant Martin Nevarez, 49, of Anthony, New Mexico, were dismissed.

Jose Alvarez, 27, of Anthony, New Mexico, and Angel Herrera, 31, of Berino, New Mexico, each pled guilty on September 12, 2013, to a felony information charging them with a heroin trafficking conspiracy. Each was sentenced to time served and two years of supervised release.