Man pleads guilty to federal heroin trafficking offense
This morning, Abraham Andres Rios, 33, entered a guilty plea to participation in a narcotics trafficking conspiracy before United States Magistrate Don J. Svet pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office. Specifically, Rios pleaded guilty to Count 1 of a two-count indictment which charges him with conspiracy to possess more than one kilogram of heroin with intent to distribute. Rios, who has been in federal custody since his arrest on October 21, 2009, faces a minimum ten-year to a maximum life term of imprisonment at sentencing, which has yet to be scheduled. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Count 2 of the indictment, charging Rios with possession of heroin with intent to distribute, will be dismissed at sentencing.
United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said Rios and his co-defendant Christopher Lee Ramirez were arrested after law enforcement officers discovered more than 3400 gross grams of heroin concealed in their shoes. According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, on October 21, 2009, a Las Cruces/Dona Ana County Metro Narcotics Task Force officer, who was conducting domestic highway interdiction activities on Interstate 25, approached Rios and Ramirez after the vehicle in which they were driving pulled off the highway. Immediately before Rios, the driver of the vehicle, pulled off the highway, the officer had initiated a vehicle pursuit because Rios was exceeding the posted speed-limit. After issuing Rios, who then identified himself as "Gudberto Chavez," citations for speeding and driving without a license, the officer briefly engaged Rios and Ramirez in conversation. When the two men gave conflicting accounts regarding their travel, the officer requested back-up from the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Department. The complaint alleges that the officers obtained the consent of both men to search them and the vehicle. While searching Ramirez, the officers noted that his shoes appeared abnormal in that they looked extra thick. When the officers examined one of Ramirez's shoes, he noted that the shoe was very heavy. Investigation revealed that Ramirez's shoes concealed heroin and that another pair of shoes in the vehicle also concealed heroin.
In his plea agreement, Rios generally admitted the allegations in the complaint. Rios specifically admitted that he had been wearing a pair of shoes that concealed heroin before he pulled the vehicle off the highway and that he removed the shoes before the officer approached him and his co-defendant. Rios also admitted that he knew that the shoes he had been wearing and the shoes worn by his co-defendant concealed heroin and that each expected to be paid $1200.00 for delivering the heroin to Albuquerque.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Las Cruces/Dona Ana County Metro Narcotics Task Force, the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen R. Kotz.