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SNM gang investigation yields 40 pounds of meth and 2 pounds of heroin

FBI agents seized 40 pounds of methamphetamine and two pounds of heroin last week during an investigation of an Albuquerque man suspected of being a member of the notorious SNM prison gang.

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Michael Anthony Hernandez

Agents arrested Michael Anthony Hernandez, 44, known as “Polo,” as part of a five-year racketeering investigation into the gang, which has sought to extend its influence from inside the prison to the streets of cities and towns throughout New Mexico.

According to a search warrant affidavit, agents believe Hernandez put out a “hit” or “greenlight” on a lower-level drug dealer who owed him money for a drug transaction. He was being held on probation and parole violations pending further charges. He has not been charged in connection with the alleged hit plan.

Agents seized the drugs after serving search warrants on Hernandez’s home on the 6900 block of Los Alisos Court NW and an apartment on the 1300 block of Pennsylvania NE.

The court records don’t put a value on the drugs seized, but the price of methamphetamine has been volatile since the onset of COVID-19, with prices rising from around $2,000 a pound to as much as $5,000, according to other court records.

Also according to court records, former SNM gang members and members of the San Jose street gang told agents that Hernandez was proud of his membership in the San Jose gang, which began when he was 13, but preferred to keep his membership in the SNM quiet.

The FBI Violent Crimes Task Force that has been running the SNM investigation reports that 10 cold case homicides attributable to gang members have been solved, and more than 120 SNM members and associates have been convicted of crimes charged in connection with the investigations.

Members of the FBI’s Gang Task Force and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office Community Action Team also were part of the investigation into Hernandez’s activities.

Agents said they believed Hernandez supplied methamphetamine and heroin to members of SNM, and to the San Jose, Barelas and 18th Street gangs. He also apparently used gang members to sell drugs for him, sharing in the bulk of the profits.

One FBI source, who claimed to have known Hernandez for decades, said Hernandez had for years been a dealer of ounce quantities of heroin and methamphetamine, according to court records.

Hernandez has multiple convictions in state court for possessing narcotics with intent to distribute and other crimes but, in recent years, the source told FBI agents, he had made a connection that gave him access to as much as 100 pounds of methamphetamine and pounds of heroin each month.

The source also said that Hernandez was “too flashy” and “undisciplined,” spending his money on expensive cars, according to court records.

Over the past two months, agents arranged two undercover drug purchases from Hernandez, but didn’t put details of the transactions, such as the amount of drugs purchased or the cost, into the search warrant affidavits in order to protect the identities of the informants making the purchases.

According to court records, federal agents intercepted two different gang members after they purchased drugs from Hernandez and seized several pounds of methamphetamine.

Agents also watched several men at Hernandez’s home remove packages from the door panel of a car owned by Hernandez and take the packages inside his house.

In connection with the alleged hit scheme, the lower-level drug dealer was in jail and Hernandez said he would give an inmate heroin and strips of suboxone if the man who owed Hernandez money was killed, according to the search warrant affidavit.

The search warrant affidavit said Hernandez was concerned his debtor might be cooperating with law enforcement. Agents said in court records that they warned the jail and found no evidence the debtor was cooperating with law enforcement.

The search warrants for Hernandez’s home and apartment make it clear that there are numerous other investigations into the criminal activities of SNM and street gang members.

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