Mexican National and Las Cruces Resident Plead Guilty to Trafficking Heroin in Dona Ana County
ALBUQUERQUE—Jovita Belmonte-Gonzalez, 43, of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, entered guilty pleas today in federal court in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to heroin trafficking charges in four separate cases. One of her confederate, Nathan Andrew Maestas, 31, of Las Cruces, also pleaded guilty to heroin trafficking and firearms charges in one of the four cases.
Belmonte-Gonzalez, Maestas, and 14 others were charged with heroin trafficking offenses in four indictments filed in November 2013 as a result of a multi-agency investigation led by the FBI that targeted Belmonte-Gonzalez’s heroin trafficking activities in Doña Ana County, New Mexico. Belmonte-Gonzales was charged as the lead defendant in all four indictments, which alleged that she supplied heroin to four drug trafficking organizations that were distributing heroin in Doña Ana County.
In entering her guilty pleas in the four cases, Belmonte Gonzalez admitted conducting frequent heroin transactions, including transactions involving hundreds of grams of heroin, with her co-defendants between June 2013 and October 2013. According to the indictments, Belmonte-Gonzalez typically negotiated heroin sales by telephone from Juarez. Belmonte-Gonzalez’s co-defendants then traveled from Doña Ana County to Juarez, where they purchased the heroin from her and returned to Doña Ana County where they distributed the drugs.
At sentencing, Belmonte-Gonzales faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison. She has been in custody since her arrest on November 15, 2013, and remains detained pending her sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. Belmonte-Gonzalez will be deported after she completes her prison sentence.
Maestas pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Maestas admitted conspiring with Belmonte-Gonzalez and others to distribute heroin in Doña Ana County between June 4, 2013 and October 27, 2013. He acknowledged that he negotiated three heroin transactions, involving an aggregate of 128 grams of heroin, from Belmonte-Gonzalez during this period and arranged to smuggle the heroin from Juarez into the United States. Maestas also admitted unlawfully possessing a firearm and ammunition on June 4, 2013. At the time, he was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of burglary and larceny.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Maestas will be sentenced to 72 months in federal prison, followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. Maestas has been in federal custody since his arrest on November 15, 2013. He remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
The remaining 14 defendants have entered not guilty pleas to the charges against them. They are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney E. Garreth Winstead, III, of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office. The investigation leading to the charges in the four cases was led by the Las Cruces Office of the FBI, in collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Border Patrol, the Las Cruces Office of the DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Las Cruces Police Department, and the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office.
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.