News and Press Releases

Twenty-Four Plead Guilty to Trafficking
Drugs in Doña Ana County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 12, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE – Javier Castruita, 45, of Anthony, N.M., entered a guilty plea yesterday to cocaine trafficking charges in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M.  His guilty plea resolves the last remaining case charged as a result of a multi-agency investigation that culminated in the filing of drug trafficking charges against 28 residents from Doña Ana County, N.M., and El Paso County, Texas, last spring.

Castruita and 27 others were charged in 12 criminal complaints with distributing cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana in and around southern Doña Ana County.  The criminal complaints were unsealed on May 8, 2013, following a multi-agency arrest operation resulting in the arrests of 22 defendants.  Five others subsequently were arrested, leaving one fugitive. 

The charges against the defendants were the result of an intensive four-month multi-agency investigation led by the FBI’s Las Cruces Cross-Border Drug Violence Hybrid Squad and Southern New Mexico Gang Task Force that targeted known drug dealers in southern Doña Ana County.  The U.S. Border Patrol and the Las Cruces- Doña Ana County Metro Narcotics Agency, which is comprised of officers from the New Mexico State Police, the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office and the Las Cruces Police Department, participated in the investigation. During the course of the investigation, officers oversaw approximately 40 covert drug buys and the purchase of five firearms from the defendants.

The investigation was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, 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. 

Yesterday’s guilty plea was the 24th guilty plea entered by defendants arrested as a result of the investigation.  The charges against one of the remaining three defendants were dismissed in support of his prosecution on more significant methamphetamine trafficking charges in the Western District of Texas.  Charges against the other two were dismissed with leave to refile.

The cases were investigated by the FBI’s Las Cruces Cross-Border Drug Violence Hybrid Squad, the Las Cruces- Doña Ana County Metro Narcotics Agency, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Dona Doña County Sheriff’s Office.  They are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shaheen P. Torgoley and Sarah M. Davenport of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office. 

CASE SUMMARIES

Castruita and his two co-defendants Gloria Portillo Valdivia, 51, and Carlos Alberto Valdivia, 56, both of Anthony, N.M., were charged with cocaine trafficking offenses.  Portillo Valdivia pled guilty on Sept. 12, 2013, and was sentenced on Dec. 4, 2013 to ten months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.  Valdivia pled guilty on Oct. 4, 2013, under a plea agreement that requires the imposition of an 84-month prison sentence.  Castruita, who pled guilty this morning, faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing.

Abel Romero, 29, of Anthony, N.M., Victor Cano, 30, of Anthony, N.M., and Jaime Cano, 30, of Canutillo, Texas, were charged with cocaine and marijuana trafficking offenses.  Romero also was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.   Victor Cano pled guilty on Nov. 7, 2013, under a plea agreement that requires the imposition of a sentence in the range of 30 to 37 months in prison.  Jaime Cano also pled guilty on Nov. 7, 2013, under a plea agreement that requires the imposition of a sentence in the range of 40 to 60 months in prison.  On Dec. 5, 2013, Romero pled guilty under a plea agreement that requires the imposition of a 131 month prison sentence. 

Noe Perez-Rodriguez, 46, of Berino, N.M., and Larry Valles, Sr., 50, of Los Lunas, N.M., each pled guilty on Sept. 12, 2013, to methamphetamine trafficking charges.  At sentencing, each faces a sentence of not less than five years and not more than 40 years in prison.

Rudy Portillo, 54, and Isaiah Portillo, 20, both of Anthony, N.M., and Victor Leos, 53, of Anthony, Texas, were charged with heroin trafficking offenses.  Isaiah Portillo and Leos entered guilty pleas on Oct. 11, 2013 and Oct. 24, 2013, respectively, and Rudy Portillo pled guilty on Dec. 5, 2013.  At sentencing, Rudy Portillo and Leos each faces a sentence of not less than five years and not more than 40 years in prison, and Isaiah Portillo faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Victor Alvarez, 43, of Las Cruces, N.M., and Benjamin Ochoa, 31, of Las Cruces, N.M., pled guilty to cocaine trafficking charges on Oct. 31, 2013 and Nov. 7, 2013, respectively.   Each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing.

Daniel Arrieta, 38, of Anthony, N.M., pled guilty to a heroin trafficking charge on Dec. 5, 2013, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing.

Michael Vega, 26, and Raul Martinez, 25, both of Anthony, N.M., were charged with cocaine trafficking offenses.  Vega pled guilty on Nov. 21, 2013, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing.  The charges against Martinez were dismissed without prejudice on Nov. 26, 2013.

John Eric Sapien, 25, of Anthony, N.M., pled guilty to a cocaine trafficking charge on Sept. 20, 2013, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing.

Jose Salcido, 51, of Anthony, N.M., pled guilty to a cocaine trafficking charge, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing.   The charges against his co-defendant Gerardo Garcia, 63, who was the sole fugitive, were dismissed following his deportation to Mexico.

Joey Martinez, 29, and Eloy Rios-Montoya, 40, both of Anthony, Texas, pled guilty to cocaine trafficking charges on Sept. 5, 2013 and Sept. 20, 2013, respectively.  Each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing.

Freddy Sanchez-Ramirez, 56, of Anthony, N.M., and Roberto Andres Urquidi, 34, of Canutillo, Texas, pled guilty to heroin trafficking charges on Sept. 20, 2013 and Nov. 7, 2013, respectively.  Each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at sentencing.

Jesus M. Baeza-Lascano, 44, of Anthony, N.M., pled guilty to a cocaine trafficking charge on July 23, 2013, and was sentenced to ten months in prison on Oc. 22, 2013.  Baeza-Lascano, a Mexican national, will be deported after he completes his prison sentence.  The charges against his co-defendant Martin Nevarez, 49, of Anthony, N.M., were dismissed.

Jose Alvarez, 27, of Anthony, N.M., and Angel Herrera, 31, of Berino, N.M., each pled guilty on Sept. 12, 2013, to a felony information charging them with a heroin trafficking conspiracy.  Each was sentenced to time-served and two years of supervised release.

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