Another New Yorker Pleads Guilty to Federal Marijuana Trafficking Charges
ALBUQUERQUE – Eric Bernard Harris, 46, of St. Albans, N.Y., pleaded guilty this afternoon to a conspiracy to distribute marijuana charge. The plea was entered without the benefit of a plea agreement. Eric Harris’s co-defendant, Gary Anthony Harris, 50, of Carle Place, N.Y., entered a guilty plea to a marijuana trafficking charge earlier this week.
Eric Harris and Gary Harris were charged by criminal complaint on Aug. 8, 2013, with conspiracy to distribute marijuana. On Aug. 13, 2013, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents arrested Eric Harris in New York, N.Y., and Gary Harris in Carle Place, N.Y. The two men subsequently appeared in Las Cruces federal court to face the charges against them. On Nov. 13, 2013, they were indicted and charged with conspiracy and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
According to court filings, Carl Francis Carter, 60, of Deptford, N.J., was arrested on July 27, 2011, after an officer of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety Motor Transportation Division found 527 kilograms (1163 pounds) of marijuana concealed in Carter’s commercial vehicle during a routine inspection at a checkpoint on Interstate 10 in Hidalgo County, N.M. Subsequent investigation by HSI revealed that Carter had been in communication with Gary Harris on the night of his arrest, and that Eric Harris had attempted to contact Carter the morning after his arrest. Investigation also revealed that Eric Harris and Gary Harris traveled from New York to Phoenix, Ariz., on July 17, 2011, allegedly to facilitate the purchase of the marijuana and to transport it from Tucson, Ariz., to New York. Eric Harris and Gary Harris traveled back to New York on July 27, 2011, following Carter’s arrest.
Today, Eric Harris pleaded guilty to both counts of the Indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and admitted conspiring with Gary Harris, Carter and others to distribute the 527 kilograms of marijuana found in Carter’s commercial vehicle.
On March 5, 2014, Gary Harris pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In entering his guilty plea, Gary Harris acknowledged possession of 300 pounds of 527 kilograms of marijuana that was found in Carter’s commercial vehicle on June 27, 2011. He also admitted that Eric Harris and he traveled from New York to Arizona to facilitate the purchase and transportation of the marijuana from Arizona to New York. As part of his plea agreement, Gary Harris agreed to forfeit $52,882.97 in drug proceeds which were seized from two bank accounts and a safe deposit box by HSI pursuant to seizure warrants.
Carter pled guilty to a marijuana trafficking charge on Jan. 31, 2012, and admitted knowingly possessing 527 kilograms of marijuana on July 27, 2011. Carter admitted knowing that the marijuana was concealed in his commercial vehicle and that he expected to be paid for delivering the marijuana for further distribution.
Sentencing hearings for Eric Harris, Gary Harris and Carter have yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, each man faces a sentence of not less than five years and not more than 40 years in prison.
This case was investigated by the Deming office of HSI with assistance from the New Mexico Department of Public Safety Motor Transportation Division, and is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy M. Castellano of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.