ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Raymond Moya waved to his loved ones as he was led out of a federal courtroom in a red jumpsuit and shackles Thursday morning, just moments after he was ordered to spend the remainder of his life in prison.
In May, a jury found the 36-year-old guilty of heroin distribution resulting in the death of 18-year-old Cameron Weiss. Moya is likely the first person to be convicted of the crime in New Mexico, and the life sentence was mandatory because of his prior convictions.
“This prosecution really is nothing more than window dressing and doesn’t (result) in any significant or even minuscule reduction in the amount of heroin being sold,” Moya’s attorney, Jerry Daniel Herrera, said at Thursday’s sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera in Albuquerque.
Weiss, a former La Cueva High School athlete who started using prescribed painkillers after two collarbone injuries, had been addicted to heroin for about two years before his mother found his body in their Northeast Heights home in August 2011. He’d been in and out of treatment programs and had just been released from jail.
Court documents say that Moya sold 2 grams of heroin to Joseph Dyson, who paid him $100, then gave 0.2 gram to Weiss and another friend. Dyson, whom Weiss met in jail, was sentenced to 15 to 21 months for his role in the case.
Moya’s attorney argued that a life sentence in this case didn’t “square with the huge numbers of people whose drug dealing activities have impacted tens of thousands of people – for instance, El Chapo or Carlos Lehder.”
“These people are going to face the same sentence that this individual faces who, as we both know, was a small-time street dealer selling enough drugs to sustain his own addiction,” he said.
Moya was raised primarily by his mother. His father, also struggling with an opioid addiction, was incarcerated off and on. Moya started using marijuana as an elementary school student, and later moved to heroin. At 18, he left home and
was living on the streets, and he has spent much of his adult life incarcerated. According to court documents, Moya said he has lost at least five friends to violence and drugs.
“Mr. Weiss came from a background of privilege. Mr. Weiss’ parents provided every opportunity in the world to defeat the demon of drug addiction,” Moya’s attorneys wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Mr. Moya’s father labored as a painter, under severe heroin addiction and did not provide the sort of support Raymond needed to conquer this menace. And yet, despite the valiant effort provided by his parents, Cameron succumbed to his drug addiction. It is easy to see why and understand that Ray could not succeed on his own.”
Prosecutors, on the other hand, said Moya showed up to the drug deal with Dyson in a Cadillac, and when he was arrested months later, he had several grams of heroin on him and thousands of dollars in cash. Prosecutors said he was a violent career criminal “who made his living selling heroin to hapless addicts enslaved by their dependence on drugs.”