Two arizona men plead guilty to federal methamphetamine trafficking offenses
This morning, Carlos Diaz-Ortega, 29, and Jesus Barboa-Cecena, 48, both residents of Phoenix, Arizona, entered guilty pleas to methamphetamine trafficking offenses before United States Magistrate Judge Alan C. Torgerson pursuant to plea agreements with the United States Attorney’s Office. Both men have been in federal custody since their arrests on July 8, 2009. At their sentencing hearings, which have yet to be scheduled, each man faces a minimum ten-year term of imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment.
United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said that Diaz-Ortega, Barboa-Cecena and co-defendant Eder Zazueta were arrested after an officer of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety Motor Transportation Division (NMDPS-MTD) executed a traffic stop of the vehicle in which the three men were traveling and found more than two kilograms of methamphetamine concealed in the vehicle. The three men initially were charged in a criminal complaint and thereafter, on July 22, 2009, a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging them with (1) conspiracy to possess more than 500 grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and (2) possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. During today's plea hearings, Diaz-Ortega and Barboa-Cecena each entered guilty pleas to both counts of the indictment.
According to the criminal complaint, on the morning of July 8, 2009, a NMDPS-MTD officer executed a traffic stop of the defendants' vehicle in the vicinity of mile marker 454 on northbound Interstate 25 near Raton, New Mexico, and cited Zazueta for following too closely. Based on the nervous behavior of the men, the officer requested and obtained consent to search the vehicle. The criminal complaint alleges that, during his search of the vehicle, the officer observed tooling marks on the screws in the right rear cargo area of the vehicle as well as on the bolts securing the vehicle's quarter panels and the screws on the molding by the windshield wipers. Shortly thereafter, the officer located two packages in the rear quarter panel of the vehicle. The substance in the packages tested positive for methamphetamine and weighed approximately 2.1 kilograms.
In their respective plea agreements, Diaz-Ortega and Barboa-Cecena each admitted that the three men intended to take the methamphetamine from Phoenix, Arizona to Denver, Colorado. They further admitted that co-defendant Zazueta and Diaz-Ortega rented the vehicle for the purpose of transporting the methamphetamine to Denver. Although the vehicle was rented in Zazueta's name and under his credit card, Diaz-Ortega contributed several hundred dollars towards the rental fee. Zazueta and Diaz-Ortega took then the vehicle to Barboa-Cecena, who concealed the methamphetamine in the vehicle. Diaz-Ortega and Barboa-Cecena also admitted that they consented to the officer's request to search the vehicle and that the officer found the methamphetamine during his search of the vehicle.
Zazueta has entered a not guilty plea to the charges in the indictment and is pending trial. United States Attorney Gonzales reiterated that an indictment is only an accusation and all criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the NMDPSMTD, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei.