Northeast Heights Heroin Trafficking Ring Dismantled by Multi-Agency Investigation
ALBUQUERQUE – Seven individuals were arrested this morning on federal narcotics trafficking charges as a result of a multi-agency investigation targeting heroin traffickers operating in the Northeast Height of Albuquerque, N.M., announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales and Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit of the DEA’s El Paso Field Division.
Today’s arrests are the result of a 15-month investigation by the DEA, Albuquerque Police Department and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office into heroin traffickers operating in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights, an area that has experienced a growing, wide-spread heroin abuse problem among teens and young adults in recent years. The investigation was code-named “Balloon Fiesta,” a reference to the multi-colored balloons that heroin often is packaged in for retail distribution. The investigation was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) program. OCDETF 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.
In announcing the results of the investigation, U.S. Attorney Gonzales said, “I commend the DEA, the Albuquerque Police Department and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office for their unrelenting commitment to bring to justice drug traffickers who relentlessly target any available customer, including our children, to push highly addictive and dangerous drugs in the Albuquerque metro area. I also commend community groups and organizations like the Heroin Awareness Committee who have made it their mission to educate our children and our community about the perils of drugs, prevent teenage drug abuse, and advocate for treatment for those who have become addicted with the goal of preventing drug overdose deaths. Working together, we can and will make a difference.”
“The investigation that resulted in these arrests and seizures was undertaken in response to a growing problem of heroin abuse in the North East Heights area of Albuquerque,” said Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit of the DEA. “Heroin abuse and addiction exacts a tremendous toll on society, and these enforcement actions, which targeted dealers and their assets, strike a serious blow to trafficking in the area. They are an important step in improving safety and security in the community, especially among our young people.”
Five of the defendants arrested this morning are charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin in an indictment that was filed under seal on June 12, 2013 and unsealed earlier today. Four of those defendants, Angel Last Name Unknown (LNU), also known as “Abraham Miramonte,” 21, Miguel Bustamante-Conchas, 37, Baltazar Granados, 36, and Ruben Garcia Miranda, 47, were arrested in Albuquerque. The fifth defendant, Ramon Cabrales-Guerra, 22, of Ellensburg, Wash., was arrested in Washington State. If convicted on the conspiracy charge, each of the five defendants faces a minimum of five years to a maximum of 40 years in federal prison, and Angel LNU, Cabrales-Guerra and Granados, who are Mexican nationals illegally in the United States, will be deported after completing their prison sentences.
The remaining two other defendants, Joel Nunez-Haroz, 42, and Pablo Arturo Felix-Sicarios, 19, are charged in criminal complaints alleging possession of heroin with intent to distribute. If convicted, each faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison and both men, who are Mexican nationals illegally in the United States, will be deported after completing their prison sentences.
The six defendants arrested in Albuquerque made their initial appearances in federal court this afternoon. They are temporarily detained pending detention hearings which have yet to be scheduled. Cabrales-Guera will be transferred from Washington State to the District of New Mexico to face the charges against him.
During today’s arrest operation, the DEA seized approximately three pounds of heroin, a handgun and approximately $10,000 in cash pursuant to federal search warrants. They also seized seven vehicles pursuant to federal seizure warrants.
These cases were investigated by the Albuquerque office of the DEA, the Albuquerque Police Department and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean J. Sullivan and Shana B. Long. The New Mexico State Police and Corrales Police Department assisted in this morning’s law enforcement operation.
Charges in indictments and criminal complaints are only accusations. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.