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Sixth member of pot ring pleads guilty to trafficking

Robert D. Moreno, 38, of Ukiah, Calif. Handout photo

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A sixth member of a statewide marijuana trafficking ring pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to trafficking and money laundering, and is facing 20 months in prison, according to his plea agreement.

Robert D. Moreno, 38, of Ukiah, Calif., is one of 10 defendants charged following a two-year investigation by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation into an organization led by Enrique Cavazos, 32, of Tijeras, and former owner of Café Bien, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Moreno, Enrique Cavazos, his wife, Lindsey Cavazos, 33, his father, Felix Cavazos, 59, of Albuquerque, Joaquin Alaniz, 41, and Daniel Nieto, 30, both of Carlsbad, Eliberto Nava, 36, of Madera, Calif., and Antonio Ruelas, 32, of Rio Rancho, were charged by indictment in November of 2015 with marijuana trafficking and money laundering.

Cavazos and his wife used bank accounts in the names of several of their businesses, including a restaurant and a car dealership, to launder their drug proceeds, according to court filings.

The indictment was superseded last August to add money laundering charges against: Steven Becerra, 62, the owner of the Becerra Group Tax and Accounting Firm in Albuquerque; Deborah Gutierrez, 55, who operated Automated Financial Technologies; and Glen F. Lucero, 66, a retired school teacher. The superseding indictment also removed Felix Cavazos, who died after the original indictment was filed.

Sentencing for Moreno has yet to be scheduled.

Five of Moreno’s co-defendants have entered guilty pleas and two have been sentenced. Enrique Cavazos was sentenced to 72 months in federal prison and Ruelas was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.

The remaining four defendants, who have entered not guilty pleas to the superseding indictment, are awaiting trial, currently scheduled for next month.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer M. Rozzoni, Timothy S. Vasquez and Joel R. Meyers are prosecuting the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Kotz is handling the forfeiture matters.

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