U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Mexico
(505) 346-7274
December 5, 2014

Two More Las Cruces Residents Plead Guilty to Trafficking Heroin in Doña Ana County

ALBUQUERQUE—Two more residents of Las Cruces, N.M., have entered guilty pleas in Las Cruces federal court to heroin trafficking charges in five cases filed in 2013 as the result of a multi-agency investigation into drug trafficking in Doña Ana County, N.M.

Esther Soliz, 50, pled guilty in Las Cruces federal court this morning to participating in a heroin trafficking conspiracy under a plea agreement that requires the imposition of a ten year federal prison sentence. She remains in custody pending her sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. Angel Ortega, 19, entered a guilty plea yesterday to a heroin trafficking conspiracy charge that exposes her to a sentence of not less than five years and not more than 40 years in prison. She too remains in custody pending her sentencing hearing.

Soliz and Ortega, together with a Mexican national and 18 other Las Cruces residents, were charged with heroin trafficking offenses in five indictments filed in Nov. 2013, as a result of a multi-agency investigation led by the FBI that targeted the heroin trafficking activities of Jovita Belmonte-Gonzalez in Doña Ana County. Belmonte-Gonzales, 43, a Mexican national from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, was named as the lead defendant in four of five indictments which charged her with supplying heroin to five drug trafficking organizations that distributed heroin in Doña Ana County. To date, 19 of the 21 defendants charged as a result of the investigation have entered guilty pleas.

The lead defendant, Belmonte-Gonzalez, pled guilty to heroin trafficking charges in four of the five cases in June 2014, and admitted conducting frequent heroin transactions with her co-defendants between June 2013 and Oct. 2013. Court records reflect that Belmonte-Gonzalez typically negotiated heroin sales by telephone from Juarez and her co-defendants traveled from Doña Ana County to Juarez where they purchased the heroin from her and later distributed the drugs in Doña Ana County. Belmonte-Gonzales faces a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison and a maximum of life in prison, and will be deported after she completes her prison sentence. She remains in federal custody pending her sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

The following defendants also have entered guilty pleas in the cases generated as a result of the multi-agency investigation:

  • Nathan Andrew Maestas, 31, entered guilty pleas on June 16, 2014, to heroin trafficking and firearms charges. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Maestas will be sentenced to 72 months in federal prison.
  • Aprile Cardon, 36, pled guilty on June 18, 2014 to a misdemeanor information charging her with simple possession of heroin, and was sentenced to time served (48 days).
  • Deva Blunt, 20, pled guilty on July 16, 2014, to simple possession of heroin. She faces a maximum statutory penalty of a year in prison.
  • Isaac Garces, 29, pled guilty on Aug. 11, 2014, to participating in a heroin distribution conspiracy and to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Garces faces a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison and a maximum of life in prison when he is sentenced.
  • Adriana Antillon, 23, pled guilty on Aug. 25, 2014 to participating in a heroin trafficking conspiracy. Antillon faces a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison and a maximum of life in prison when she is sentenced.
  • Antonio Dominguez, 20, pled guilty on Aug. 25, 2014, to participating in a heroin trafficking conspiracy. Dominguez faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced.
  • Valerie Madrid, 41, pled guilty on Sept. 18, 2014, to participating in a heroin distribution conspiracy. Madrid faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when she is sentenced.
  • Crystal Marie Delgado, 28, pled guilty on Sept. 23, 2014, to a heroin distribution conspiracy charge. Delgado faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when she is sentenced.
  • Kathye Young, 44, pled guilty on Oct. 7, 2014, to participating in a heroin trafficking conspiracy and possession of heroin with intent to distribute. Young faces a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison when she is sentenced.
  • Angel Linares, 20, pled guilty on Oct. 7, 2014, to participating in a heroin trafficking conspiracy. Linares faces a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison when he is sentenced.
  • Darlene Gonzalez, 32, pled guilty on Oct. 8, 2014 to participating in a heroin trafficking conspiracy. Gonzalez faces a maximum of 20 years in prison when she is sentenced. She remains in custody.
  • Jorge Carrillo, 58, pled guilty to participating in a heroin trafficking conspiracy and being a felon in possession of firearms on Oct. 7, 2014. Carrillo faces a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison when he is sentenced.
  • Jeremy Sparks, 23, pled guilty on Oct. 15, 2014, to participating in a heroin trafficking conspiracy. Sparks faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced.
  • Michelle Antillon, 20, pled guilty on Nov. 12, 2014, to participating in a heroin trafficking conspiracy. Antillon faces a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison and a maximum of life in prison when she is sentenced.
  • Alysha Vargas, 22, pled guilty on Nov. 19, 2014, to participating in a heroin trafficking conspiracy and possession of heroin with intent to distribute. Vargas faces a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison when she is sentenced.
  • Andy Nunez, 21, pled guilty on Nov. 19, 2014, to participating in a heroin trafficking conspiracy. Nunez faces a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison when he is sentenced.

Patrick Gonzalez, 39, and Celena Marquez, 26, have entered not guilty pleas. Gonzalez is scheduled for trial on Jan. 20, 2015, and Marquez is scheduled for a change of hearing on Dec. 11, 2014. Charges in indictments are merely accusations and criminal defendants 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.

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