U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Mexico
(505) 346-7274
December 4, 2015

Federal Indictments Charge 25 Alleged Members of Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico (SNM) Prison Gang with Participation in Violent Racketeering Enterprise

ALBUQUERQUE—A federal grand jury has returned two indictments charging a total of 25 defendants with participating in a violent racketeering enterprise known as the Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico (SNM) Prison Gang. The racketeering indictments, which were filed on Dec. 1, 2015, and were unsealed yesterday, allege that the defendants conspired to violate federal racketeering laws by conspiring to commit violent crimes, including murder, attempted murder and assault, in aid of their racketeering enterprise. The indictments are the result of a multi-agency investigation led by the Albuquerque Division of the FBI that culminated yesterday with a law enforcement operation during which all but two of the defendants charged were arrested.

The racketeering indictments and the results of yesterday’s law enforcement operation were announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, 2nd Judicial District Attorney Kari E. Brandenburg, Acting Special Agent in Charge Bryan Finnegan of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division, Director Jerry Roark of the Adult Prison Division of the New Mexico Corrections Department, U.S. Marshal Conrad E. Candelaria, New Mexico State Police Chief Pete N. Kassetas, Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, III, and Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden, Jr.

In announcing the indictments, U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said “The results of this investigation demonstrate the resolve of the law enforcement community in New Mexico to work together to make our communities safer and better places to live, work and raise families.” The U.S. Attorney noted that the two cases are being prosecuted as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution. Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible. Because New Mexico’s violent crime rates are amongst the highest in the nation, New Mexico’s law enforcement community has been collaborating to target repeat offenders from counties with the highest violent crime rates under this initiative.

“Our office has worked in close conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office with tremendous success, and this matter is an excellent example of that relationship,” said 2nd Judicial District Attorney Kari E. Brandenburg. “Our community is best served by this type of collaboration amongst law enforcement agencies, and we are pleased to be a part of that process. Federal prosecution of those involved will ensure they are held accountable at the strongest and most stringent level, and put our community another step ahead of the criminal element trying to underscore public safety on our streets and in our neighborhoods.”

“Nothing is more important to the FBI than protecting the American people. That’s why we teamed up with our partners and set our sights on a large, violent prison gang that for more than 30 years used murder, kidnapping and assault to intimidate their fellow inmates as well as our communities,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Bryan Finnegan. “The FBI will continue to strengthen our partnerships, share intelligence, and look for ways to pool our resources to get violent criminals off our streets—and keep them from operating in our prisons when we put them there. I want to thank not only the Albuquerque FBI Special Agents and support staff who worked on this investigation, but also the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the El Paso, Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas and Knoxville FBI Divisions, U.S. Marshal’s Service, New Mexico Corrections Department, New Mexico State Police, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department and Metropolitan Detention Center, and the Albuquerque Police Department.”

“Today is a realization towards true public safety and the New Mexico Corrections Department is proud to contribute,” said Jerry Roark, Director of the Adult Prison Division of the New Mexico Corrections Department. “These arrests help us in our mission is to provide safer prisons for those in our care.”

The two racketeering indictments allege that the 25 defendants charged were members and associates of the SNM Prison Gang, a state-wide gang operating in New Mexico prisons and in communities throughout the state. According to the racketeering indictments, the SNM Prison Gang was formed in the early 1980s at the Penitentiary of New Mexico after the prison riot in Feb. 1980, and expanded throughout the New Mexico penal system. Gang members and associates allegedly are expected to remain loyal to the Gang and work to further its objectives after they have completed their prison sentences and those who do not are allegedly subject to violent forms of discipline. The racketeering indictments allege that significant goals of the SNM Prison Gang include controlling and profiting from drug trafficking both within and outside the penal system; intimidating and influencing other gangs for the purpose of expanding the network for its illegal activities; and engaging in violence to assert its gang identity and protect its territory.

The first of the racketeering indictments charges 24 alleged SNM Prison Gang members and associates with committing four murders, conspiring to commit three murders and conspiring to commit a violent assault for the purpose of gaining entrance to and maintaining and increasing their positons within the SNM Prison Gang, an enterprise engaged in racketeering activity. The indictment includes Notices of Special Findings against the 12 defendants alleged to have committed murder in aid of the Gang’s racketeering affairs. The decision whether or not to seek the death penalty will be made by the Attorney General of the United States based on the recommendations of the U.S. Attorney and after carefully considering each defendant’s background and the circumstances of his crimes.

The second racketeering indictment charges four alleged SNM Prison Gang members and associates, including three charged in the first racketeering indictment, with conspiring to commit two murders and committing two violent assaults for the purpose of gaining entrance to and maintaining and increasing their positons within the SNM Prison Gang. Twenty-three defendants, including 13 who were in state custody, were arrested during yesterday’s law enforcement operation; one of the defendants was arrested in Tennessee. Two defendants have yet to be apprehended and are considered fugitives. The defendants arrested in New Mexico made their initial appearances in federal court earlier today. All remain in federal custody pending arraignment and detention hearings which will be scheduled for next week.

More than 500 federal, state, county and local law enforcement and corrections officers were involved in yesterday’s law enforcement operation. In addition to the arrests, the law enforcement operation included the execution of 12 federal search warrants in New Mexico and one in Tennessee; a lockdown of three prison facilities in the state for the purpose of conducting cell searches; and more than 50 probation and parole searches throughout the state. The following agencies were involved in the law enforcement operation: Albuquerque Division of the FBI, New Mexico Corrections Department, New Mexico State Police, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, Metropolitan Correctional Center, Albuquerque Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service, and the El Paso, Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas and Knoxville FBI Divisions.

“Deputy U.S. Marshals and Special Deputized Marshals enhance the safety of our citizens and communities by regularly contributing their expertise in apprehending violent offenders to operations like the one the U.S. Marshals Service participated in yesterday,” said U.S. Marshal Conrad E. Candelaria. “The U.S. Marshals Service will continue to support the prosecution of these racketeering cases as they proceed through the criminal justice system in front of a federal judge.”

“The citizens of New Mexico are safer today because of the collaborative effort between law enforcement agencies. When law enforcement agencies combine resources and assets, we are able to prevent violent crimes,” said New Mexico State Police Chief, Pete Kassetas. “These cases are great examples of how local, county, state and federal agencies are working with State District Attorneys and the U.S. Attorney to prevent violent crimes. This operation reinforces that there are consequences to those that choose to conspire to commit violent crimes in our state.”

“The collaboration between law enforcement and corrections has proven to be highly effective in proactively preventing crime and making our community a safer place to live, work, and visit,” said Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, III. “This operation has created the opportunity to partner with our state and federal partners to remove and prosecute those who continually participate in criminal activity and sends a clear message that we have a strategy to keep our community safer by holding criminals accountable.”

“This is a monumental accomplishment for our agencies. These arrests will help rid our streets of systematic, organized crime and violent, illegal activities perpetuated by accused repeat offenders,” said Chief Gorden Eden, Jr., of the Albuquerque Police Department. “We are extremely thankful for the collaborative efforts of our law enforcement partners which ensure cases like this have a powerful impact—one that will positively affect our community for years to come.”

INDICTMENT IN UNITED STATES v. DELEON et al., 15-CR-4268 KG

Summary of the Charges

Indictment 15-CR-4268 KG charges 24 defendants with participating in a racketeering enterprise, the SNM Prison Gang, and committing violent acts to achieve the objectives of their enterprise.

Counts 1, 2, 3 and 5 charge certain defendants with committing four murders in Doña Ana County, N.M. Counts 1 and 2 charge the murders of persons identified as F.C. and R.G. on March 26, 2001. Count 3 charges the murder of a person identified as F.S. on June 17, 2007, and Count 5 charges the murder of a person identified as J.M. on March 7, 2014. If convicted, the defendants each face a statutory penalty of life imprisonment and are eligible for the death penalty.

Counts 4, 7 and 8 charge certain defendants with conspiring to murder three persons in Doña Ana County, N.M. Count 4 charges a conspiracy to murder a person identified as J.M. on March 7, 2014, and Counts 7 and 8 charge conspiracies to murder persons identified as D.S and G.M. from 2013 until Dec. 1, 2015. If convicted, the defendants each face a statutory maximum penalty of ten years in prison.

Count 6 charges certain defendants with conspiring to commit assault resulting in serious bodily injury to a person identified as J.R. in Dona Ana County, N.M., from 2003 until July 13, 2015. If convicted, the defendants each face a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Defendants Charged in Indictment

  • Angel DeLeon, 38, a Mexican national, is charged in Count 1. DeLeon has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.
  • Joe Gallegos, 46, of Albuquerque, N.M., is charged in Count 1.
  • Edward Troup, 41, of Albuquerque, N.M., is charged in Counts 1 and 3.
  • Leonard Lujan, 49, of Albuquerque, N.M., who was in state custody, is charged in Counts 1 and 2. Billy Garcia, 61, of Albuquerque, N.M., who was in state custody, is charged in Counts 1 and 2.
  • Eugene Martinez, 36, of Albuquerque, N.M., is charged in Count 2.
  • Allen Patterson, 45, of Silver City, N.M., is charged in Count 2.
  • Christopher Chavez, 39, of Albuquerque, N.M., is charged in Count 2.
  • Javier Alonso, 36, of Roswell, N.M., who was in state custody, is charged in Count 3.
  • Arturo Arnulfo Garcia, 48, of Denver, Colo., is charged in Count 3. Garcia has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.
  • Benjamin Clark, 37, of Las Cruces, N.M., who was in state custody, is charged in Count 3. Ruben Hernandez, 42, of Clovis, N.M., is charged in Count 3.
  • Jerry Armenta, 35, of Merced, Calif., who was in state custody, is charged in Counts 4 and 5.
  • Jerry Montoya, 35, of Albuquerque, N.M., who was in state custody, is charged in Counts 4 and 5.
  • Mario Rodriguez, 31, of Silver City, N.M., who was in state custody, is charged in Counts 4 and 5. Rodriguez also is charged in Indictment 15-CR-4269 KG. Timothy Martinez, 32, of Santa Fe, N.M., who was in state custody, is charged in Counts 4 and 5. Mauricio Varela, 45, of Albuquerque, N.M., who was in state custody, is charged in Counts 4 and 5. Varela also is charged in Indictment 15-CR-4269 KG.
  • Daniel Sanchez, 43, of Albuquerque, N.M., who was in state custody, is charged in Counts 4 and 5.
  • Gerald Archuleta, 49, of McMinnville, Tenn., is charged in Count 6. Archuleta was arrested in Tennessee and will be transferred to the District of New Mexico to face the charges against him.
  • Conrad Villegas, 31, of Deming, N.M., who was in state custody, is charged in Count 6. Anthony Ray Baca, 52, of Albuquerque, N.M., who was in state custody, is charged in Counts 4, 6, 7 and 8.
  • Robert Martinez, 51, of Santa Fe, N.M., who was in state custody, is charged in Counts 7 and 8. Martinez also is charged in Indictment 15-CR-4269 KG.
  • Roy Paul Martinez 43 of Albuquerque, N.M., who was in state custody, is charged in Counts 7 and 8. Martinez,
  • Christopher Garcia, 40, of Albuquerque, N.M., is charged in Count 8.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, New Mexico Corrections Department, New Mexico State Police and the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.

INDICTMENT IN UNITED STATES v. VARELA, et al., 15-CR-4269 KG

Summary of the Charges

Indictment 15-CR-4269 KG charges four defendants with participating in a racketeering enterprise, SNM, and committing violent acts to achieve the objectives of their enterprise.

Counts 1 and 3 charge the four defendants with conspiring to murder two persons in Santa Fe County, N.M. Count 1 charges a conspiracy to murder a person identified as P.S. in March 2011, and Count 3 charges a conspiracy to murder a person identified as A.S. in June 2011. If convicted, the defendants each face a statutory maximum penalty of ten years in prison.

Counts 2 and 4 charge the four defendants with committing violent assaults in aid of racketeering in Santa Fe County, N.M. Count 2 charges an assault with a dangerous weapon on a person identified as P.S. on March 14, 2011, and Count 4 charges an assault resulting in serious bodily injury on a person identified as A.S. on June 24, 2011. If convicted, the defendants each face a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Defendants Charged in Indictment

Mauricio Varela, 45, of Albuquerque, N.M., who was in state custody, also is charged in Indictment 15-CR-4268 KG.

David Calbert, 39, of Clovis, N.M., was in state custody. Robert Martinez, 51, of Santa Fe, N.M., who was in state custody, also is charged in Indictment 15-CR-4268 KG.

Mario Rodriguez, 31, of Silver City, N.M., who was in state custody, also is charged in Indictment 15-CR-4269 KG.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, New Mexico Corrections Department and New Mexico State Police, and it is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.

The public is reminded that charges in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Photographs of the two fugitives, Angel DeLeon and Arturo Arnulfo Garcia, are attached to this press release. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of this/these fugitive(s) is asked to contact the Albuquerque FBI (24 hours) at (505) 889-1300. Tips also can be submitted online at https://tips.fbi.gov.

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