Curry County Quartet Indicted on Federal Methamphetamine Trafficking, Money Laundering and Firearms Charges
ALBUQUERQUE – Last week, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging four alleged members of a methamphetamine trafficking organization operating out of Curry County, N.M. The indictment was unsealed after the arrests of Michael Montoya, 35, and Dianna Hernandez-Trujillo, 22, of Clovis, N.M., and Alexander J. Page, 26, of Tucumcari, N.M., during a multi-agency law enforcement operation on Nov. 22, 2013. The fourth defendant, Brian F. Acuna, 22, is in state custody on unrelated charges, and will be transferred to federal custody to face the charges in the indictment.
The indictment was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough, Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, Special Agent in Charge Dawn Mertz of the Phoenix Field Office of IRS Criminal Investigation, Lt. Michael Reeves of the Curry County Drug Task Force, Curry County Sheriff Matt Murray, Chief Steve Sanders of the Clovis Police Department, and New Mexico State Police Chief Pete N. Kassetas.
The six-count indictment, which alleges narcotics trafficking, money laundering and firearms crimes, is the result of an investigation by the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, Curry County Drug Task Force, Curry County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico State Police and Clovis Police Department that began in Aug. 2011. Officers seized and obtained approximately seven kilograms of methamphetamine during the investigation. They also seized approximately $104,446.00 in cash while executing a search warrant during Friday’s law enforcement operation.
Count 1 of the indictment charges all four defendants with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine in Curry County and other places in New Mexico from Oct. 2007 through Nov. 2013. Counts 2 through 4 charge Montoya with distributing methamphetamine in Curry County in Oct. 2011, Montoya, Acuna and Hernandez-Trujillo with distributing methamphetamine in Cibola County in March 2012, and Montoya and Page with distributing methamphetamine in Socorro County in Nov. 2012. Count 5 charges Montoya with money laundering for allegedly using more than $59,000.00 in drug proceeds to purchase real estate in Clovis, and Count 6 charges Acuna with using and carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking offense.
The maximum penalty for a conviction on each of the four methamphetamine trafficking counts is imprisonment for not less than ten years or more than life and a $10,000,000 fine. The maximum penalty for a conviction on the money laundering count is ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and the penalty for a conviction on the firearms count is a five year term of imprisonment to run consecutive to any other term prison sentence imposed on the related drug trafficking crime. Charges in indictments are merely accusations and criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This morning Hernandez-Trujillo entered a not guilty plea to the indictment and was released pending trial under conditions including pretrial services supervision. Montoya and Page are scheduled to make their initial appearances in federal court in Roswell, N.M., tomorrow.
In announcing the indictment Acting U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough said, “I am proud of being part of an operation that is a significant step in improving public safety in Curry County. Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue our relentless pursuit of meth trafficking rings that operate in our communities throughout New Mexico.”
“Methamphetamine, as Friday’s law enforcement action demonstrates, is not just a big city problem in New Mexico. Even our rural communities can be victimized,” said Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division. “The FBI is committed to working closely with our federal, state and local partners to investigate and disrupt drug trafficking organizations, no matter where they are. I would like to thank the FBI Special Agents involved in this case, as well as the U.S. Attorney's Office, IRS Criminal Investigation, the New Mexico State Police, the Curry County Sheriff's Office, Clovis Police Department and the Curry County Drug Task Force.”
“Laundering illegal drug profits is essential to any narcotics organization. IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to provide our financial expertise while working alongside our law enforcement partners with the common goal of dismantling drug trafficking operations,” said Dawn Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Office of IRS Criminal Investigation.
Lt. Michael Reeves of the Curry County Drug Task Force added, “Friday’s arrests would not be possible without the consistent, cooperative, effort among local, state and federal agencies over the course of many years. The citizens and law enforcement officers battling illegal drugs in our area have a stake in this case, and contributed to this case. The arrest of Michael Montoya, and the dismantling of this methamphetamine trafficking organization, will contribute to better quality of life in our community.”
“For many years, drug traffickers have been a scourge to our community by supplying and trafficking large quantities of illicit drugs,” said Curry County Undersheriff Wesley Waller. “The damage these individuals have inflicted is immeasurable. The arrests of Michael Montoya and his alleged criminal organization are a culmination of the extensive and undying efforts by numerous dedicated narcotics investigators in the Clovis area, and a joint action by city, county, state and federal law enforcement. ”
“I am pleased to see our Federal Partners and the Metro Drug Task Force Agents working in collaboration in identifying and solving the crimes associated with a large narcotics trafficking network,” said Clovis Police Chief Steve Sanders. “After a long, intense and thorough investigation, this will no doubt have a large impact on the narcotics crimes here in Clovis and Curry County. I want to thank everyone involved for their dedication and relentless efforts to ensure this network is dismantled, thus making our communities safer places to live, work and play in.”
“The New Mexico State Police actively participate in federal, county, and municipal initiatives that result in safer communities for our residents,” said New Mexico State Police Chief Pete N. Kassetas. “The New Mexico State Police supports soft and hard measures to prevent the purchase, manufacture, distribution, of methamphetamine; and any other method to combat this illicit drug from the dangers it presents to our New Mexico communities.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean J. Sullivan is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the Roswell office of the FBI, the Albuquerque office of IRS Criminal Investigation, Curry County Drug Task Force, Curry County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico State Police and Clovis Police Department, with assistance from the Portales Police Department, Socorro County Sheriff’s Office, the DEA and the ATF office in Los Angeles. In addition to the investigating agencies already identified, the following law enforcement agencies participated in Friday’s law enforcement operation: the Albuquerque offices of the FBI and DEA, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, and the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office.
The investigation leading to the indictment in this case 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.