Las Cruces Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Narcotics Trafficking Charges
ALBUQUERQUE—Eddie Gallardo, 31, of Las Cruces, N.M., entered a guilty plea yesterday afternoon in Las Cruces federal court to cocaine and methamphetamine trafficking charges. The guilty plea was entered pursuant to a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Gallardo was arrested on May 22, 2014, on a criminal complaint charging him with a methamphetamine trafficking charge and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The complaint alleged that on May 13, 2014, Gallardo sold a handgun and methamphetamine to an undercover FBI agent. At the time, Gallardo was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of a drug trafficking offense.
Gallardo subsequently was charged in a seven-count indictment filed in Aug. 2014. Counts 1, 2 and 3 of the indictment charged Gallardo with distributing cocaine in Doña Ana County, N.M., on three separate occasions between Aug. 7, 2013 and Oct. 30, 2013. Counts 3, 5 and 6 charged Gallardo with distributing methamphetamine on three separate occasions between Aug. 2013 and May 2014. Count 7 charged Gallardo with using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
During yesterday’s change of plea hearing, Gallardo pled guilty to Counts 1 through 6 of the indictment. In entering his guilty plea, Gallardo admitted selling cocaine and methamphetamine to a law enforcement officer who was acting in an undercover capacity between Aug. 7, 2013 and May 13, 2014.
Gallardo has been in federal custody since his arrest. He remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Gallardo faces a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison to be followed by not less than four years of supervised release.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Y. Armijo of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting the case. This is one of many cases generated by a 15-month investigation by the FBI’s Las Cruces Southwest Border/Safe Streets Task Force and the New Mexico HIDTA Regional Interagency Drug Task Force (Metro Narcotics Task Force). The investigation, which concluded in Aug. 2014, initially targeted methamphetamine manufacturers and traffickers operating out of Doña Ana County, but expanded to include individuals trafficking in other drugs and using firearms to facilitate their drug trafficking crimes. The investigation identified sources of drug supply in Los Angeles, Calif., Tucson, Ariz., and El Paso, Texas, who were supplying drug traffickers in southern New Mexico with high-grade methamphetamine, and led to the filing of criminal charges against 75 individuals, including 42 federal defendants and 33 state defendants. Law enforcement officers seized more than 29 pounds of methamphetamine, 37 pounds of cocaine, 4.5 ounces of heroin, 30 pounds of marijuana, 74 firearms and 17 vehicles during the course of the investigation.