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Accused head of NM drug ring gets 14 years

file photo

file photo

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Christopher Roybal, 35, the accused leader of an Albuquerque-based drug ring, was sentenced to 14 years in prison Tuesday for his conviction on cocaine trafficking and money laundering charges.

Roybal also is required to pay a $184,080 under the terms of his plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Roybal was one of 19 defendants charged in Dec. 2012, with drug trafficking and money laundering charges in a 60-count indictment. The indictment was added to twice, adding witness tampering charges and a heroin trafficking charge.

The FBI, IRS and Albuquerque Police Department with assistance from the DEA, the HIDTA Region I Narcotic Task Force and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.

It was code-named “Operation Rain Check,” designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force program. OCDETF is a nationwide Department of Justice program that combines the resources and expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations.

The original indictment charged Roybal and ten others, with conspiracy to distribute large quantities of cocaine in New Mexico between Aug. 2011 and Dec. 2012. It also charged Christopher Roybal and nine others with conspiracy to distribute marijuana between Oct. 2011 and Dec. 2012. Additionally, the indictment included three separate money laundering conspiracies, 22 money laundering offenses, and 18 “telephone counts,” offenses alleging the use of a communications device to facilitate a drug trafficking offense.

The indictment was superseded in May 2014, to add a new charge against George Roybal, 53, of Albuquerque, alleging that he threatened an FBI informant to prevent the informant from testifying at the trial of this case which was then scheduled to begin on May 19, 2014. It was superseded again in Sept. 2014, to add two new charges alleging another defendant attempted to murder an FBI informant to prevent that informant from testifying at the trial of this case which was then scheduled to begin on Nov. 10, 2014, and with distributing heroin in Bernalillo County, N.M., in May 2014.

In entering his guilty plea, Christopher Roybal admitted that between Aug. 2011 and Dec. 2012, he conspired with others to distribute kilogram quantities of cocaine in Albuquerque and Las Vegas, N.M. He also admitted participating in three conspiracies that laundered the proceeds of his drug trafficking organization.

With the exception of one defendant who is participating in a pretrial diversion program under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office, all 18 defendants have entered guilty pleas, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

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