More than 50 drug dealers rounded up in major N.M. bust

A serious heroin problem has plagued parts of the state for years


By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Albuquerque Journal

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — More than 50 drug dealers and distributors in different parts of the state were rounded up as part of two federal investigations, U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said Thursday.

"Both addressed both ends of the drug trafficking scourge in New Mexico: the transporters in the south and the people who sell the drugs at a street level in the north," Gonzales said.

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Gonzales said the Española Valley has a "very serious" heroin problem and has grappled with it for many years. He said as part of the operation, 15 people were arrested on federal drug charges and 14 others were arrested on state drug charges.

"The situation there is simply not acceptable," he said at a news conference in Albuquerque. "This ... operation is a first step toward bringing positive changes to the Española Valley. But as we all know, we have a very long way to go. For now, I can tell you that the goal with this operation is to reduce the availability of heroin and other drugs in the Valley before they and the people who dispense them wreak havoc in the lives of the families who call Española and Rio Arriba County home."

The operation in the southern part of the state was focused on a family-run drug transporting ring and was part of a larger, national effort called "Project Deliverance."

"The main target of this operation was the transportation infrastructure of the Mexican drug trafficking organizations in the United States," Gonzales said.

He said the family organization mainly trafficked cocaine, and transported it throughout New Mexico and into places like Denver. Gonzales said 39 members of the group were charged in a federal indictment, and 26 have been arrested, so far. He said most members were arrested in Chaparral, Carlsbad and Albuquerque, while others were arrested in El Paso, Denver and Atlanta.

Santa Fe County District Attorney Angela "Spence" Pacheco said she appreciated federal authorities taking an interest in the drug problems that have plagued her part of New Mexico. She said the drug problem contributes to other crime in the area.

"We've seen numerous violent crimes such as aggravated batteries, murders, robberies, all associated with the drug problem. And as a result of this operation several individuals who have been involved in contributing to that problem have been arrested," she said.

According to a U.S. Department of Justice news release, 2,266 people were arrested as part of "Project Deliverance," and law enforcement seized 74 tons of illegal drugs and $154 million in cash.

Drug bust nets New Mexicans

A multiagency law enforcement team arrested more than 30 people in the Española area, federal authorities said Thursday. Federal health officials have consistently rated the Española Valley as having the nation's highest per capita death rate from heroin overdoses.

FEDERAL INDICTMENTS

  • John Pacheco, 45, of Hernandez - cocaine distribution
  • Amos Martinez, 51, and Janette Martinez, 49, both of Santa Cruz, and Robert Garcia, age and residence unknown - conspiracy to distribute heroin, heroin distribution; opening, using or maintaining a place for the distribution of heroin.
  • Gabriel Mares, 21, of Santa Fe - possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of hydrocodone with intent to distribute
  • Rica Trujillo, 32, of Española, and Seneca Sandifer, 29, of Hernandez - conspiracy to manufacture crack cocaine, manufacture of crack cocaine, and aiding and abetting the manufacture of crack cocaine.
  • Tracy Martinez, 36; Senaida Deaguero, 37, and Mark Vigil, 35, all of Española - distribution of heroin, and aiding and abetting heroin distribution.
  • Eric P. Gonzales, 33; Derrick J. Pena, 30, and Nidia Lizette Batista-Marquez, all of Santa Fe - conspiracy to distribute heroin, heroin distribution, and aiding and abetting.
  • Ronald Martinez, 44, Española - heroin distribution.
  • Allen R. Martinez, 49, of Fairview, and Antonio Ocampo-Ochoa, 26, of Ranchito Mahada, Mexico - conspiracy to distribute heroin, heroin distribution; and for Ocampo-Ochoa only, re-entry of a removed alien.
  • Patrick Quintana, 47, of Alcalde, and Alfonso Tafoya, 48, of Llano - conspiracy to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine, cocaine distribution, methamphetamine distribution, and aiding and abetting.
  • Ricky Dixon, 24, and Frankie Dixon, 28, both of Española - conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, crack cocaine distribution, and aiding and abetting.

STATE INDICTMENTS

  • Dennis Garcia, Jonathan Sanchez, Jose Castañeda, Joey Trujillo, all of Rio Arriba County - heroin trafficking.
  • Delano Valdez of Rio Arriba County - cocaine trafficking
  • Anita Maez, Carmelita Hita and Adrian Trujillo, all of Santa Fe County - cocaine trafficking.
  • Michael Garcia, Holli Lampro, Patrece Visarraga, Leann Juarez and Matthew Gutierrez, all Santa Fe County - heroin trafficking.

More than 30 people in the Santa Fe and Española area were caught up in Thursday's drug raids.

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