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Feds: Drug bust nets 28 cartel operatives

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Federal authorities say 28 people, including at least seven in Albuquerque and one in Rio Rancho, are facing drug trafficking and money laundering charges in New Mexico as part of an investigation targeting a Mexican drug trafficking organization.

News media outlets were identifying the target organization as part of the Sinaloa cartel.

“The law enforcement community is sending a loud and clear message to those who traffic drugs in our communities that they cannot commit crimes in New Mexico without consequence,” Acting U.S. Attorney James D. Tierney said in a statement.

The organization is believed responsible for importing large quantities of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine from Mexico, and distributing the illicit drugs in New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Kentucky and Illinois, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

During the investigation, authorities seized about 30 kilograms of heroin, 64 kilograms of methamphetamine, 17 kilograms of cocaine, 20 kilograms of marijuana, 24 firearms, three vehicles and $102,000.

The investigation concluded Friday with an early morning, multiagency law enforcement operation executing arrest warrants in Albuquerque, Belen, El Paso and Sunland Park, with 20 arrested Friday. The alleged ringleader was not in custody as of Friday afternoon.

Tierney and Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy of the DEA’s El Paso Division announced the results of the investigation Friday afternoon during a news conference in Las Cruces.

Glaspy said, “Today law enforcement in New Mexico and West Texas has dealt a severe blow to a drug trafficking organization with ties to a Mexican drug cartel.”

The investigation targeted a drug trafficking ring allegedly led by Luis Angel Briseño-Lopez, 30, a Mexican national believed to reside in Ciudad Juárez who has not been arrested, authorities said.

The indictment includes forfeiture allegations, which seek to forfeit to the U.S. the proceeds of the drug trafficking and money-laundering activities, including $56,556 seized by the DEA during the investigation. It also seeks the imposition of a money judgment in the amount of at least $1.4 million, the amount allegedly derived from the crimes charged in the indictment.

The Las Cruces and Albuquerque offices of the DEA conducted the investigation with assistance from the U.S. Border Patrol, New Mexico State Police and Hatch Police Department.

Chief Pete Kassetas of the State Police said these kinds of cases are great examples of how local, county, state and federal agencies are working with state district attorneys and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute those responsible for their crimes.

“This operation reinforces that there are consequences to those that choose to conspire to illegal narcotics crimes in our communities and state,” he said.

Authorities identified the 28 defendants in addition to those from Albuquerque and Rio Rancho: one from Belen and several from Sunland Park, Anthony, N.M., Chaparral, Las Cruces, Santa Rosa and El Paso.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office released this list of charges against defendants as part of its 16-month drug trafficking operation announced Friday in Las Cruces.

⋄  Luis Angel Briseño-Lopez, 30, a Mexican national believed to reside in Juarez, Mexico, is charged in Counts 1-4, 6, 13-17, 20-21, 23, 25-26, 29, 31-32 and 34-39 of the indictment. Briseño-Lopez has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

⋄  Francisco Luna-Rosales, 50, a legal permanent resident who resides in Albuquerque, is charged in Counts 1, 27, 29, 38 and 40-42 of the indictment. Luna-Rosales has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

⋄  Omar Fernandez, 21, of Albuquerque is charged in Counts 1, 24 and 28 of the indictment. Fernandez was arrested Friday morning in Albuquerque.

⋄  Manuel German Ibarra, 32, of Albuquerque is charged in Counts 1, 2, 22 and 31 of the indictment. Ibarra has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

⋄  Juan R. Gutierrez, 30, of Belen is charged in Counts 1, 2 and 18-20 of the indictment. Gutierrez was arrested Friday morning in Belen.

⋄  Gustavo Hernandez-Loaiza, 38, of Albuquerque is charged in Counts 1, 2 and 21 of the indictment. Hernandez-Loaiza was arrested Friday morning in Albuquerque.

⋄  Joshua Jande Carmona, 23 of El Paso, Texas, is charged in Counts 1-3, 5-8, 10-11, 14, 29-31 and 34-35 of the indictment. Carmona was arrested Friday morning in Arlington, Texas.

⋄  Alberto Terrazas-Ignacio, 24, of Albuquerque is charged in Counts 1, 2, 6, 15-18, 20-28, 32-33 and 44 of the indictment. Terrazas-Ignacio was arrested Friday morning in Las Cruces.

⋄  Jose Manuel Ortiz-Campos, 28, a legal permanent resident residing in El Paso, Texas, is charged in Counts 1- 2 and 36-40 of the indictment. Ortiz-Campos was arrested Friday morning in El Paso.

⋄  Diego Armando Rivas-Aguilar, 23, a Mexican national, is charged in Counts 1 and 33 of the indictment. Rivas-Aguilar is in custody on a federal marijuana trafficking charge in the Western District of Texas and will be transferred to the District of New Mexico to face the charges in the indictment.

⋄  Edgar Dominguez-Cuellar, 30, of Sunland Park is charged in Counts 1, 7-10 and 12-13 of the indictment. Dominguez-Cuellar is in custody on a federal alien smuggling charge in the District of New Mexico.

⋄  Rosa M. De Santiago, 43, of Sunland Park is charged in Counts 1- 2 and 36-40 of the indictment. De Santiago was arrested Friday morning in Sunland Park.

⋄  Georgina Ramirez, 36, of Anthony is charged in Counts 1, 36-38 and 43 of the indictment. Ramirez was arrested Friday morning in Anthony.

⋄  Jesus A. Flores, 39, a legal permanent resident of Anthony is charged in Counts 1, 38 and 43 of the indictment. Flores was arrested Friday morning in Anthony.

⋄  Alfonso Rios, 36, of Santa Rosa is charged in Counts 1 and 11 of the indictment. Rios was arrested in El Paso.

⋄  Vanessa Reyes, 26, of El Paso, Texas, is charged in Counts 1-2 and 29-31 of the indictment. Reyes was arrested Friday morning in Arlington, Texas.

⋄  Roderica T. Bahe, 24, of Albuquerque is charged in Counts 1 and 44 of the indictment. Bahe was arrested Friday morning in Las Cruces.

⋄  Martin J. Contreras, 25, of Rio Rancho is charged in Counts 1 and 25-26 of the indictment. Contreras was arrested Friday morning in Rio Rancho.

⋄  Elizabeth Monroy, 19, of Chaparral is charged in Counts 1 and 36-37 of the indictment. Monroy was arrested Friday morning in Chaparral.

⋄  Daisy Hidalgo, 22, of Anthony is charged in Counts 1 and 36-37 of the indictment. Hidalgo has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

⋄  Jazmin Lucia Soto, 19, of Chaparral is charged in Counts 1 and 36-37 of the indictment. Soto was arrested Friday morning in Las Cruces.

⋄  Ricardo Terrazas-Ignacio, 19, of Las Cruces is charged in Count 1 and 16 of the indictment. Terrazas-Ignacio was arrested Friday morning in Las Cruces.

⋄  Dulce Viridiana Rodriguez, 21, of Albuquerque is charged in Counts 1 and 38 of the indictment. Rodriguez has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

⋄  Jose Fernando Lucero, 24, of Las Cruces with conspiracy and possession of heroin and cocaine with intent to distribute.

⋄  Maria Isabel Reyes, 37, and Roberta Guillermina Ornelas, 38, both of Horizon City, Texas, with conspiracy and possession of more than a pound of heroin with intent to distribute.

⋄  Gonzalo Dominguez-Cuellar, 24, of Sunland Park was arrested this morning and will be charged by criminal complaint with participating in the drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracies charged in the indictment.

⋄  Ivonne Briseno-Lopez, 26, of El Paso, Texas, was arrested this morning and will be charged by criminal complaint with participating in the money laundering conspiracies charged in the indictment.


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