Raids target big drug operation around state - Albuquerque Journal

Raids target big drug operation around state

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Federal, state and local enforcement agents, some descending in helicopters, staged early morning raids in Las Vegas and elsewhere in northern and central New Mexico on Thursday to take down a longtime drug trafficking organization and its alleged leader, who seemed to always stay a step ahead of his captors.

Robert Corbin Padilla, also known as Fat Head, was taken into custody Thursday in Albuquerque, according to newly released arrest and search warrant records filed by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI.

Padilla faces multiple charges, including distribution of fentanyl and cocaine. It was unclear late Thursday where he was being held or whether he had an attorney.

A DEA search warrant affidavit alleges that Padilla’s organization, which operated out of his home in Albuquerque, distributed cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and oxycodone and fentanyl pills.

Las Vegas police believe Padilla has been the main source of illegal drugs in the northern New Mexico city, supplying 70% of the cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine that goes into the community, the affidavit says.

One of Padilla’s suppliers in Albuquerque has been the source of his bulk quantities of cocaine for about 20 years, the DEA affidavit says.

As part of the joint operation, which also involved the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Marshals Service, agents planned to execute arrests warrants for about 25 people, a dozen of whom are alleged to be members of the Padilla organization. Federal authorities were not disclosing the actual number arrested as of Thursday afternoon.

The 19-count indictment issued Sept. 11 by a federal grand jury shows that the DEA investigation was underway for at least a year. Until his arrest Thursday, Padilla was considered a fugitive, the DEA affidavit says.

“The primary target of this investigation, Padilla, is extremely surveillance conscious and employs very effective counter-survelliance techniques in an attempt to thwart law enforcement tactics,” the DEA affidavit says.

Court orders allowed the DEA to rely on wire interceptions and electronic surveillance, revealing that Padilla had been conducting drug trafficking activities from his home in the 8400 block of San Juan NE in Albuquerque.

He frequently traveled to Las Vegas to store, retrieve and distribute drugs, as well as collect drug proceeds, the affidavit says.

Agents learned Padilla kept his drugs in or near his house when he actively distributed them but hid them in a location known only to him when he wasn’t selling, the affidavit says.

An April 10 telephone conversation intercepted by agents led them to believe Padilla was being warned that federal law enforcement agents were investigating him.

According to the 87-page DEA affidavit:

“Through information obtained early on in this investigation, agents believe that Padilla has sources of information in the Las Vegas Police Department and/or the San Miguel County District Attorney’s Office. Lead agents believe these source(s) of information may provide Padilla information regarding any investigations targeting Padilla as well as provide him information regarding impending execution of search warrants.”

The affidavit also included transcripts of portions of the intercepted calls.

“Be careful,” one caller told Padilla in the April 10 call. “But, just stay alert, brother.”

“Is it just the city or is it uh … or higher?” Padilla asked.

“I think higher, bro. I’m just telling you to stay alert,” the caller said.

Padilla responded, “But if it’s way higher, the city won’t have wind of it, they don’t talk to the city ’cause they think that they uh … they have all kinds of employees there.”

A minute later, Padilla made a call to a different person who knew someone who worked for the city of Las Vegas. During that one-minute call, the affidavit says, Padilla said he didn’t believe that the investigation was at the federal level because federal law enforcement agencies “don’t share information with the Las Vegas police due to Padilla’s influence within the department.”

“To that end,” the affidavit says, “Padilla surmised the investigators were from the New Mexico State Police.”

The search locations included a stash house where Padilla was thought to be masking his whereabouts from law enforcement, hiding his vehicles and concealing evidence.

Home » News » Albuquerque News » Raids target big drug operation around state


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Details emerge in Sunday shootings after more video is ...
ABQnews Seeker
Police say a man who is ... Police say a man who is suspected of killing his wife may have killed himself. They initially had charged the couple's son in the ...
2
Albuquerque redistricting committee to take final vote
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque's citizen redistricting committee is slated ... Albuquerque's citizen redistricting committee is slated to take its final vote Wednesday, deciding what it thinks is the best way to reshape the city's ...
3
APD creates unit to target road rage, aggressive driving
ABQnews Seeker
with a way for the public ... with a way for the public to submit evidence — as detectives search for the shooters in two recent road-rage incidents on Interstate 40. ...
4
Woman charged in 2020 ABQ homicide
ABQnews Seeker
Detectives arrested a woman for her ... Detectives arrested a woman for her alleged role in the fatal shooting of a man in 2020 outside an apartment complex on West Central. ...
5
BernCo reopens East Mountains open spaces
ABQnews Seeker
Bernalillo County is reopening some of ... Bernalillo County is reopening some of its open space properties it had previously closed due to fire concerns. The county announced in a news ...
6
US Marshals in ABQ shoot, kill fugitive who left ...
ABQnews Seeker
Investigators say man was armed with ... Investigators say man was armed with gun
7
Freedom 4th Celebration is back in ABQ after absence
ABQnews Seeker
Thanks to generous amounts of recent ... Thanks to generous amounts of recent rainfall, the grass is lush and green at Balloon ...
8
More support sought for early childhood education
ABQnews Seeker
Land Grant Permanent fund would be ... Land Grant Permanent fund would be drawn on
9
Sunday shooting deaths of husband, wife will be investigated ...
ABQnews Seeker
Son had been charged with killing ... Son had been charged with killing father; father suspected of killin