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Eighteen Individuals Charged with Participating in Tri-State Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy

OCT 31 (LAS CRUCES, N.M.) - Joseph M. Arabit, Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s El Paso Division and U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough, announced the indictment of 18 individuals who allegedly participated in a tri-state drug trafficking organization that obtained methamphetamine from Arizona and Texas and distributed the drugs in Otero and Doña Ana Counties, N.M.   

The 43-count indictment, which was filed under seal on Oct. 16, 2013, was unsealed on October 30, 2013, following a multi-agency law enforcement operation that resulted in the arrest of eight of the 18 defendants, including five residents of Alamogordo, N.M.  Two other defendants were arrested on Oct. 29, 2013 in Arizona and two more are in state custody on unrelated charges. Six defendants have yet to be arrested and are considered fugitives. 

The defendants arrested in New Mexico will make their initial appearances in Las Cruces federal court this morning.  The defendants arrested in Arizona will be transferred to New Mexico and the defendants in state custody will be transferred to federal custody to face the charges in the indictment.

The indictment charges all 18 defendants with conspiracy to distribute quantities of methamphetamine in Otero and Doña Ana Counties between Jan. 2013 and June 2013.  The indictment also includes 14 substantive methamphetamine distribution counts and 28 “phone” counts which allege the use of communication devices to facilitate drug trafficking crimes.

The indictment is the result of an eleven-month multi-agency investigation led by the DEA that was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) program.  The OCDETF program is a nationwide Department of Justice program that combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations.  During the course of the investigation, law enforcement officers seized approximately 3.3 kilograms of methamphetamine and $16,000 in cash.

Acting U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough emphasized the importance of the multi-agency investigation: “Methamphetamine is the drug most often associated with violent crime and property crime in New Mexico. When we attack methamphetamine trafficking in our communities, we reduce the incidence of other crime that goes hand in hand with drug trafficking.  I am proud of being part of an operation that is a significant step in improving the public safety in Otero and Doña Ana Counties.  Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue our relentless pursuit of meth trafficking rings that operate in our communities throughout New Mexico.”

“With these arrests and seizures, DEA and its federal, state, and local law enforcement partners have dismantled an organization responsible for distributing large quantities of methamphetamine in southern New Mexico.   Methamphetamine destroys the lives of its abusers and threatens the overall health and safety of our communities.  We will continue to work together to target criminal organizations and their assets to ensure that drug traffickers are held responsible for the harm they cause,” said Joseph M. Arabit, Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s El Paso Division. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Renee L. Camacho and Sarah M. Davenport of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office are prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the DEA, the Sunland Park Police Department, New Mexico State Police, Las Cruces/Doña Ana County Metro Narcotics Agency, Las Cruces Police Department, Alamogordo Police Department, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. 

The following law enforcement agencies participated in yesterday’s law enforcement operation:  DEA’s offices in Las Cruces, El Paso, Texas, Phoenix, Ariz., and Tucson, Ariz.; the FBI’s office in Las Cruces; the Las Cruces office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Marshals Service, Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office, Las Cruces Police Department, Las Cruces/Doña Ana County Metro Narcotics Agency, Alamogordo Police Department, and Sunland Park Police Department.

Summary of Indictment

Count 1 of the Indictment charges all eighteen defendants with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.  The maximum penalty for a conviction on this count is imprisonment for not less than ten years or more than life and a $10,000,000 fine.

Counts 2-4, 6-7, 9, 11, 13, 16-17, 20, 29, 32 and 43 of the indictment charge certain defendants with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.  The maximum penalty for a conviction on each of these counts is imprisonment for not more than 20 years and a $1,000,000 fine.

Counts 5, 8, 10, 12, 14-15, 18-19, 21-28, 30-31 and 33-42 of the indictment charge certain defendants with using a communications device (telephone) to facilitate a drug trafficking crime.  The maximum penalty for a conviction on each of these counts is imprisonment for not more than four years and a $250,000 fine.

Charges Against Defendants

Roxann Renee Vasquez, 40, of Duncan, Ariz., is charged in Counts 1, 21, 24 and 39 of the indictment.   Vasquez was arrested on Oct. 29, 2013 in Duncan, Ariz.

Jessie Jesus Marquez, 34, of Las Cruces, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 13, 23, 29-30, 36 and 41 of the indictment.  Marquez has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

Michelle Darlene Casillas, 36, of Phoenix, Ariz., is charged in Counts 1 and 19 of the indictment.  Casillas was arrested yesterday in Phoenix.

Cornelio Barrera, 40, of Deming, N.M., is charged in Counts 1 and 38-40 of the indictment.  Barrera was arrested on Oct. 29, 2013 in Duncan, Ariz.

Anthony Frank Montoya, 26, of Alamogordo, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 10 and 15 of the indictment.  Montoya is in state custody on unrelated charges and will be transferred to federal custody.

Demetrio Edwardo Stogden, 33, of Alamogordo, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 14, 18, 26, and 35 of the indictment.  Stogden is in state custody on unrelated charges and will be transferred to federal custody.

Jessica Marie Gomez, 30, of Phoenix, Ariz., is charged in Counts 1, 42 and 43 of the indictment.  Gomez has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

Jay T. Black, 44, of Tularosa, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 11, 17, 22 and 32 of the indictment.  Black was arrested yesterday in Tularosa.

Rustan Turner, 49, of Alamogordo, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 2 and 34 of the indictment.  Turner was arrested yesterday in Alamogordo.

Carlos John Maldonado, 37, of Las Cruces, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 3 and 25 of the indictment.  Maldonado has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

Cecilia Chavez, 52, of Alamogordo, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 2, 5 and 33 of the indictment.  Chavez was arrested yesterday in Alamogordo.

John Frank Herrera, 44, of Alamogordo, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 6, 7 and 17of the indictment.  Herrera was arrested yesterday in Alamogordo.

Michael Paul Lucero, 39, of Alamogordo, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 4 and 8 of the indictment.  Lucero was arrested yesterday in Alamogordo.

Paul Steven McGranahan, 44, of Las Cruces, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 28, 31 and 37 of the indictment.  McGranahan has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

Stephan E. Morales, 30, of Las Cruces, N.M., is charged in Counts 1 and 27 of the indictment.  Morales was arrested yesterday in Las Cruces.

Jasmine Lara Robertson, 35, of Alamogordo, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 2, 9, 12 and 16 of the indictment.  Robertson was arrested yesterday in Alamogordo.

Stephanie Taylor, 26, of Alamogordo, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 2 and 20 of the indictment.  Taylor has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

Bret Hampton, 33, of Las Cruces, N.M., is charged in Count 1 of the indictment.  Hampton has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law

The DEA El Paso Division encourages parents, and their children to visit the following interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.


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