Home Albuquerque Press Releases 2013 Twenty-Nine Facing Federal Drug Trafficking Charges Based on a Multi-Agency Investigation in Doña Ana County...

Twenty-Nine Facing Federal Drug Trafficking Charges Based on a Multi-Agency Investigation in Doña Ana County

U.S. Attorney’s Office May 08, 2013
  • District of New Mexico (505) 346-7274

ALBUQUERQUE—Twenty-nine residents of Doña Ana County, New Mexico, and El Paso County, Texas, including 22 who were arrested this morning, are facing federal drug trafficking charges as the result of a multi-agency investigation. The charges and arrests were announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales; Carol K.O. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI; Scott A. Luck, Chief Patrol Agent of the El Paso Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol; Chief Robert Shilling of the New Mexico State Police; Doña Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison; and Las Cruces Police Chief Richard Williams.

The defendants are charged in 13 criminal complaints with distributing cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana in and around southern Doña Ana County. One of the defendants also is charged with illegally entering the United States after having been deported and another is charged with being a felon in possession of firearms. The criminal complaints, which were filed under seal on April 29, 2013 and May 6, 2013, were unsealed following an early morning law enforcement operation. Five of the defendants have yet to be arrested and are considered fugitives. Two others are in state custody on other charges and will be transferred to federal custody to face the charges in the complaints. The defendants arrested today are scheduled to make their initial appearances in federal court in Las Cruces on Friday morning.

Of the 29 defendants charged, 17 are residents of Anthony, New Mexico, and four are residents of Anthony, Texas. The eight remaining defendants reside in the following communities: two in Berino, New Mexico; two in Las Cruces, New Mexico; two in Canutillo, Texas; one in Los Lunas, New Mexico; and one in Vado, New Mexico.

In announcing the charges and today’s arrests, U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales commended the cooperative efforts of the federal, state, and local law enforcement and said, “Today, we embarked on a coordinated effort to crackdown on drug trafficking in Doña Ana County and improve the quality of life for people who live there. These arrests are part of our statewide fight against drugs and the cycle of violence that goes hand in hand with drug trafficking. The federal law enforcement community remains committed to working with its state and local partners to safeguard families throughout New Mexico.”

“The safety and security of our communities is the FBI’s highest priority,” said Carol K.O. Lee Special Agent in Charge of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI. “The scope of today’s successful law enforcement operation demonstrates the commitment of a dedicated team of federal, state and local agencies to ridding our streets of violent drug traffickers. I want to thank the FBI Special Agents, U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Border Patrol, FBI Southern New Mexico Gang Task Force, Las Cruces-Dona Ana Metro Narcotics Agency, Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office, and our other partners who worked effectively together to make this day possible.”

“We have always enjoyed a strong working relationship with local law enforcement counterparts in New Mexico, and that is a big part of the success that we are seeing in cases like this,” stated Scott A. Luck, Chief Patrol Agent of the El Paso Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol. “We will continue to dedicate the necessary resources and to work jointly toward the dismantling of criminal elements.”

The charges against the 30 defendants are 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, which 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.

During the course of the investigation, officers oversaw approximately 40 covert drug buys and the purchase of five firearms from the defendants. This morning, teams of federal, state, county, and local law enforcement officers participated in an enforcement operation that included the execution of six federal search warrants at residences in Anthony, New Mexico.

“Regarding the constant war against drugs, the New Mexico State Police will always be in the forefront assisting the U.S. federal agencies with this fight,” said Chief Robert Shilling of the New Mexico State Police. “Operations like this target the violence associated with this epidemic and create halcyon living conditions in our communities.”

“The protection of everyone in Doña Ana County is the primary function of the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department,” said Doña Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison. “This morning we were part of a multi-agency operation that concentrated on the community of Anthony, New Mexico, using every piece of intelligence and surveillance available to this department. Working together on a larger scale such as this operation, the efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement resulted in safer streets for the residents in Anthony. Today was a flawlessly executed example of that.”

“The use and distribution of illicit drugs in our community is a public safety issue and the Las Cruces Police Department is pleased to work alongside federal and regional law enforcement agencies in trying to eliminate this illegal activity,” said Las Cruces Police Chief Richard Williams.

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah M. Davenport, Shaheen P. Torgoley, and Maria Y. Armijo of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office. They were investigated by the FBI’s Las Cruces Cross-Border Drug Violence Hybrid Squad and the Southern New Mexico Gang Task Force, the U.S. Border Patrol, the New Mexico State Police, the Dona Doña County Sheriff’s Office, the Las Cruces-Doña Ana County Metro Narcotics Agency, and the Las Cruces Police Department. The U.S. Marshals Service, the SWAT and other tactical units from the El Paso and Phoenix Divisions of the FBI, and the New Mexico State Police assisted in today’s law enforcement operation.

Summaries of Criminal Complaints

Criminal complaint 13-MJ-1430 charges Jose Alvarez, 27, of Anthony, New Mexico, and Angel Herrera, 31, of Berino, New Mexico, with conspiracy to distribute heroin. If convicted, Alvarez and Herrera each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Alvarez was arrested today.

Criminal complaint 13-MJ-1431 charges Angel Torres, 44, of Anthony, Texas, with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and distribution of cocaine. If convicted, Torres faces a mandatory minimum five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison. Torres was arrested today.

Criminal complaint 13-MJ-1432 charges Rudy Portillo, 54, and Isaiah Portillo, 19, both of Anthony, New Mexico, and Victor Leos, 53, of Anthony, Texas, with conspiracy to distribute heroin. If convicted, Rudy Portillo, Isaiah Portillo, and Leos each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Isaiah Portillo and Leos were arrested today. Rudy Portillo has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

Criminal complaint 13-MJ-1433 charges Daniel Arrieta, 37, of Anthony, New Mexico, with conspiracy to distribute heroin. If convicted, Arrieta faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Arrieta has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

Criminal complaint 13-MJ-1434 charges Noe Perez-Rodriguez, 46, of Berino, New Mexico, and Larry Valles, Sr., 50, of Los Lunas, New Mexico, with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine, and distribution of cocaine. If convicted, Perez-Rodriguez and Valles each face a mandatory minimum five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison. Perez-Rodriguez also is charged with illegally entering into the United States after having been previously deported. If convicted of the immigration charge, Perez-Rodriguez faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. Perez-Rodriguez and Valles were arrested today.

Criminal complaint 13-MJ-1435 charges Michael Vega, 25, and Raul Martinez, 25, both of Anthony, New Mexico, with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and distribution of cocaine. If convicted, Vega and Martinez each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Martinez was arrested today. Vega is in state custody on other charges and will be transferred to federal custody to face the charges in the complaint.

Criminal complaint 13-MJ-1436 charges John Eric Sapien, 25, of Anthony, New Mexico, with distribution of cocaine. If convicted, Sapien faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Sapien is in state custody on other charges and will be transferred to federal custody to face the charges in the complaint.

Criminal complaint 13-MJ-1437 charges Gerardo Garcia, 63, of Vado, New Mexico, and Jose Salcido, 51, of Anthony, New Mexico, with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and distribution of cocaine. If convicted, Garcia and Salcido each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Salcido was arrested today. Garcia has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

Criminal complaint 13-MJ-1438 charges Abel Romero, 29, of Anthony, New Mexico; Benjamin Ochoa, 30, of Las Cruces, New Mexico; Victor Alvarez, 43, of Las Cruces, New Mexico; Victor Cano, 30, of Anthony, New Mexico; and Jaime Cano, 29, of Canutillo, Texas, with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and distribution of cocaine and marijuana. If convicted, each of the five defendants faces a mandatory minimum five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison. The complaint also charges Romero with being a felon in possession of a firearm. If convicted of the firearm charge, Romero faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Romero, Ochoa, and Victor and Jaime Cano were arrested today. Alvarez has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

Criminal complaint 13-MJ-1439 charges Eloy Rios-Montoya, 39, and Joey Martinez, 28, both of Anthony, Texas, and Sergio Cesar Reyes, 37, of Anthony, New Mexico, with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and distribution of cocaine. If convicted, Rios-Montoya, Reyes and Martinez each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Rios-Montoya, Martinez, and Reyes were arrested today.

Criminal complaint 13-MJ-1440 charges Javier Castruita, 45; Gloria Portillo Valdivia, 50; and Carlos Alberto Valdivia, 55, all of Anthony, New Mexico, with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and distribution of cocaine. If convicted, Castruita, Portillo Valdivi,a and Valdivia each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Castruita, Portillo Valdivia, and Valdivia were arrested today.

Criminal complaint 13-MJ-1441 charges Jesus M. Baeza-Lascano, 44, and Martin Nevarez, 49, both of Anthony, New Mexico, with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and distribution of cocaine. If convicted, Baeza-Lascano and Nevarez each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Baeza-Lascano was arrested today. Nevarez has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

Criminal complaint 13-MJ-1559 charges Roberto Andres Urquidi, 33, of Canutillo, Texas, and Freddy Sanchez-Ramirez, 55 of Anthony, New Mexico, with conspiracy to distribute heroin. If convicted, Urquidi and Sanchez-Ramirez each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Urquidi and Sanchez-Ramirez were arrested today.

Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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