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21 arrested in raids on alleged drug operation

TAOS — Multiagency raids Thursday morning resulted in 21 arrests, including that of a man believed to be the kingpin in a far-reaching cocaine trafficking operation that extends across the Mexican border into several Southwest states.

Ismael Adame, 55, and his wife, Angela Adame, 56, were among those arrested during an early morning raid on their home in Ranchos de Taos. They were charged with tax evasion, tax fraud and conspiracy, though a Drug Enforcement Administration official said it’s likely other charges are forthcoming.

The others arrested were charged mostly with trafficking or drug possession.

Sean Waite, DEA assistant special agent in charge, said the DEA believes Ismael Adame was a “significant cocaine distributor” in the Taos area.


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“We have reason to believe they may have contacts in Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma and Texas,” he said.

While no drugs were reported found in the raid, Waite said that in the course of the investigation, which has gone on at least three years, 3.4 kilograms, or about 7.5 pounds, of cocaine were acquired.

He said financial records and approximately $20,000 in cash and six vehicles believed to have been purchased with drug money were confiscated during Thursday’s raid.

The investigation was code named “Operation Plumber’s Mansion,” because Ismael Adame is the owner of In & Out Plumbing and lives on a large estate just outside of town.

In all, seven homes and two business locations operated by Adame were targeted during the raid, which involved about 70 federal, state and local law enforcement agents.

Personnel with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Department of Homeland Security, New Mexico State Police, state Tax and Revenue Department and Taos Police Department executed the raid, which began about 6 a.m. at the Adames’ home with a State Police helicopter hovering overhead.

Waite said 11 arrests were made at homes in the Taos area, 10 were made elsewhere in northern New Mexico and one in Albuquerque.

In addition to the 21 arrests made Thursday, three people already incarcerated were implicated. That leaves three of the 27 arrest warrants still outstanding. Waite said authorities believe at least one of the people still sought is out of state.

Waite said there’s still a long way to go before the cases are adjudicated.

“This is kind of halfway into the case,” he said. “There will be presentations to grand juries and the gathering of more extensive financial evidence, and there could be more charges for the existing arrestees.”