News and Press Releases

Fifteen-Month Investigation Targeting Repeat
Offenders in Doña Ana County Concludes
with Major Law Enforcement Operation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 7, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE – A 15-month investigation by the FBI and the New Mexico HIDTA Regional Interagency Drug Task Force (Metro Narcotics Task Force) targeting repeat offenders in Doña Ana County, N.M., concluded yesterday with a major law enforcement operation, announced U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division and Commander Bobby Holden of the Metro Narcotics Task Force.

The investigation, which began in May 2013, initially targeted methamphetamine manufacturers and traffickers operating out of Doña Ana County, but expanded to include individuals trafficking in other drugs and using firearms to facilitate their drug trafficking crimes.  The investigation identified sources of drug supply in Los Angeles, Calif., Tucson, Ariz., and El Paso, Texas, who were supplying drug traffickers in southern New Mexico with high-grade methamphetamine, and led to the filing of criminal charges against 75 individuals, including 42 federal defendants and 33 state defendants.  Law enforcement officers seized more than 29 pounds of methamphetamine, 37 pounds of cocaine, 4.5 ounces of heroin, 30 pounds of marijuana, 74 firearms and 17 vehicles during the course of the investigation.

U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez commended the FBI and Metro Narcotics Task Force on the outstanding results of their investigation and said, “The charges filed and drugs seized as a result of this investigation illustrate the success of our District’s federal, state and local law enforcement collaboration in rooting out drug traffickers whether they operate in large communities or in rural counties.”

“A case like this is only possible through the collaborative efforts of all of us in law enforcement,” said FBI Special Agent Carol K.O. Lee.  “We are proud to have been able to work with the outstanding officers of the Metro Narcotics Task Force, the Las Cruces Police Department, the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office, the New Mexico State Police and the U.S. Attorney's Office to have such a positive and significant impact on the communities in southern New Mexico.”

“This operation was a great example of collaboration between several agencies to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Doña Ana County,” said Commander Bobby Holden of the Metro Narcotics Task Force.

The following federal defendants were either arrested yesterday or had federal detainers filed against them:

  • Anthony Calderon, 40, and Orlando Roman, 34, both of Las Cruces, are charged with distributing heroin and methamphetamine in April 2014.

 

  • Salvador Ortega, 33, and Steven Roman, 26, both of Las Cruces, are charged with distributing methamphetamine in April 2014.

  • Robert J. Lambe, 36, of Las Cruces, is charged with distribution of methamphetamine in June 2014, using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

 

  • Jesse Antillion, 27, of Las Cruces, is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in Nov. 2013.

  • Josh Alamagor, 32, and David Enriquez, 26, both of Las Cruces, are charged with distributing methamphetamine in May 2014. 

The following defendants were arrested on federal charges during the investigation:

  • Javier Orozco, 30, and Victor Manuel Carreon, 23, both of Anthony, N.M., were charged with illegally possessing firearms in June 2013, in Doña Ana County.  Both entered guilty pleas.  In May 2014, Carreon was sentenced to 46 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.  Orozco is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 24, 2014.

  • John Wade Crist, 57, of Las Cruces, was charged with distribution of methamphetamine in June 2013 and with being a felon in possession of a firearm.  Crist pled guilty in May 2014 under a plea agreement that requires the imposition of a 144 month prison sentence.

  • Matthew Pena, 29, Rebecca Torres, 40, Anthony Perez, 40, and Robert Snow, 45, all of Deming, N.M., were charged with distribution of methamphetamine in June 2013.  Torres pled guilty in April 2014, and Pena pled guilty in May 2014.  Both are in custody pending sentencing hearings, which have not been scheduled.  Perez has pleaded not guilty and is in custody pending trial.  The charges against Snow were dismissed following his death.

  • Jennifer Sanders, 42, Jose Niño, 40, and Aubrey Savage, 34, all of Las Cruces, and Matthew Maley, 47 and Candice Marie Carpenter, 35, of Tucson, Ariz., are charged with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine from June 2013 through Aug. 2013 and in Dec. 2014.  Niño and Maley also are charged with being felons in possession of firearms. Sanders, Savage and Niño entered guilty pleas in July 2014, and are detained pending sentencing.  Sanders and Niño each face a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison and a maximum of life in prison, while Savage faces a mandatory minimum of five years to a maximum of 40 years in prison.  Maley and Carpenter have entered not guilty pleas and are in custody pending trial.

  • Mario Humberto Llantada, 51, and Martin Llantada, 41, both of La Puente, Calif., are charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in March 2014.  Mario Humberto Llantada also is charged with money laundering and using a communications device to facilitate a drug trafficking crime.  Both have entered not guilty pleas and are in custody pending trial.

  • Miguel Angel Tinajero-Martinez, 24, a Mexican national illegally in the United States, was charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Jan. 2014 and Feb. 2014, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in Feb. 2014.  He entered a guilty plea in July 2014 and is in custody pending his sentencing hearing.  Tinajero-Martinez faces a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison and a maximum of life in prison, and will be deported after completing his prison sentence.

  • Justin E. Clark, 21, of Doña Ana County, is charged with distribution of cocaine in April 2014, possession of a machine gun, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.  Clark has pleaded not guilty and is in custody pending trial.

  • Eddie Velarde-Carmona, 33, of El Paso, Texas, and Fernando Garcia, 29, of Anthony, N.M., are charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in April and May 2014.  Both have entered not guilty pleas and are detained pending trial.

  • Jesus Francisco Nino, 36, of Las Cruces, is charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in March 2014, using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.  Nino has pleaded not guilty and is detained pending trial.

  • Eddie Gallardo, 31, of Las Cruces, is charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in April and May 2014 and with being a felon in possession of a firearm.  Gallardo has pleaded not guilty and is detained pending trial.

  •  Aaron Alexander Nowak, 25, of El Paso, Texas, is charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in May 2014.  Nowak has pleaded not guilty and is detained pending trial.

  • Renelle Serna, 23, of Las Cruces, N.M., is charged with distributing methamphetamine in May 2014.  Serna has pleaded not guilty and is detained pending trial.

  • Eric G. Acosta, 27, and Christopher J. Cleveland, 34, both of Las Cruces, are charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in June 2014, using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being felons in possession of firearms.  Both have pleaded not guilty and are detained pending trial.

  • Manuel Alfred Gamboa, 42, of Las Cruces, is charged with distribution of heroin and using a communication device to facilitate a drug trafficking crime.  He has pleaded not guilty and is detained pending trial.

  • Derek Cruz Rubalcava, 24, and Mark Jesse Rodriguez, 24, both of Las Cruces, are charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and distribution of methamphetamine in July 2014.  Both have pleaded not guilty.  Rodriguez is detained and Rubalcava is released on bond pending trial.

  • Patricia Castro, 41, of Las Cruces, is charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in July 2014.  She has pleaded not guilty and is detained pending trial.

Two defendants arrested as a result of this investigation, Victor Edmundo Cano, Sr., 49, and Jaime Cano, Sr., 48, of Canutillo, Texas, are charged with cocaine trafficking offenses and using firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.  Both have entered not guilty pleas and are detained pending trial.

Four federal defendants have yet to be arrested and are considered fugitives.

The investigation leading to the aforementioned arrests, drug seizures and cases was conducted by the FBI’s Las Cruces Southwest Border/Safe Streets Task Force and the New Mexico HIDTA Regional Interagency Drug Task Force.  Agents and officers from the FBI, Metro Narcotics Task Force, Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office, Las Cruces Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Border Patrol and DEA assisted in today’s law enforcement operation. 

The federal cases filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Y. Armijo of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Krystal Wade of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas is prosecuting the federal case filed in the Western District of Texas.  Assistant District Attorneys of the 3rd Judicial District Attorney’s Office are prosecuting the state cases.
   
The New Mexico HIDTA Regional Interagency Drug Task Force is comprised of officers from the Doña Ana County, Las Cruces Police Department, New Mexico State Police and the FBI.  The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988.  HIDTA is a program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) which provides assistance to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States and seeks to reduce drug trafficking and production by facilitating coordinated law enforcement activities and information sharing.

Charges in criminal complaints and indictments are merely accusations.  Criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.

# # #

Return to Top

USAO Homepage
USAO Briefing Room
APD
Project Safe Childhood

Help us combat the proliferation of sexual exploitation crimes against children.

Victim Witness Assistance

Making sure that victims of federal crimes are treated with compassion, fairness and respect.