News and Press Releases

Multi-Agency Investigation Leads to Charges Against Twenty-
Nine Individuals for Trafficking Drugs in San Juan County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 26, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE – Twenty-eight individuals residing in San Juan County, N.M., and a woman from Meza, Ariz., are facing drug trafficking charges as the result of a multi-agency investigation targeting drug trafficking in northwestern New Mexico.  The investigation culminated today when 25 of the defendants were arrested during an early morning law enforcement operation led by Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) and the HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force.  Another two of the defendants were arrested during the course of the investigation.  The remaining two defendants, who have yet to be arrested, are considered fugitives.

The results of the investigation were announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough, 11th Judicial District Attorney Robert P. “Rick” Tedrow, Special Agent in Charge Dennis A. Ulrich, II, of HSI in El Paso, Bloomfield Police Chief Michael Kovacs, San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen, Acting Farmington Police Chief Vincent Mitchell, Aztec Police Chief Michael Heal, and Lt. Neil Haws, Director of the HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force.

The charges against the 29 defendants are the result of Operation “Brown Ice,” a year-long investigation that initially targeted a methamphetamine trafficking organization allegedly led by Isaac Anaya that distributed quantities of methamphetamine throughout San Juan County and then expanded to include other drug trafficking activity in the area.  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.

In announcing the results of the investigation, Acting U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough said, “This investigation illustrates once again the success enjoyed by our partnership of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in taking down drug trafficking organizations, whether they operate in large metropolitan areas or small, rural communities.  Today, HSI and our state and local partners made a significant impact on drug traffickers operating in rural communities in San Juan County.”

Eleventh Judicial District Attorney Robert P. “Rick” Tedrow added, “Today’s successful arrests and confiscation of drugs and firearms was a skillful collaboration of many dedicated law enforcement officers (local, state and federal) whose tireless efforts over that past 13 months have assisted our community in its desire to have safer streets.”

Thirteen of the defendants, including Isaac Anaya, 30, of Farmington, N.M., charged as a result of the investigation are facing federal charges in a 15-count federal indictment alleging a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in San Juan County from May 2013 through Sept. 2013.  The remaining 16 defendants are facing state drug trafficking and firearms charges based on criminal complaints.

During the course of the investigation, officers seized approximately five pounds of methamphetamine and five firearms.  Today’s law enforcement operation included the execution of eleven federal search warrants at two Bloomfield residences, four Farmington residences, two residences in San Juan County, two Bloomfield businesses, two Farmington business and a storage unit in Bloomfield.  It also included the execution of three state search warrants at two residences in San Juan County and one Farmington residence.  Officers seized numerous firearms, including a fully automatic Glock 19, a short-barreled rifle and a carbine with an obliterated serial number, four blasting caps, four small binary explosives and approximately 31.7 grams of methamphetamine  during the execution of the search warrants and today’s law enforcement operation. 

“HSI continues to work vigilantly with our law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking networks that smuggle and traffic vile drugs, such as methamphetamine,” said Dennis A. Ulrich, II, Special Agent in Charge of HSI El Paso. “Methamphetamine destroys lives and devastates communities, and HSI special agents are committed to prevent drugs from coming across our border and poisoning our neighborhoods.”

“Today’s efforts are good for all of San Juan County and the citizens of Bloomfield,” said Bloomfield Police Chief Michael Kovacs.  “The partnership between locals and federal agencies will impact the quality of life of our community in a positive sense.”

San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen added, “I am proud of the efforts of the Region II agents and HSI agents who put this case together.  This partnership from state, local and federal agencies is an example of what can be accomplished when we work together to make our communities safer.”

“Today’s events are the product of the diligent efforts of a vast group of people committed to the safety of our communities, county, and our nation,” said Acting Farmington Police Chief Vincent Mitchell.  “This coordination between multiple organizations and agencies increases the security, prosperity, and quality of life for our citizens.  The Farmington Police Department would like to thank the representatives from our local law enforcement agencies, Region II Narcotics, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

“This operation is important for the safety and well-being of our Citizens.  It is essential that we eradicate this terrible scourge of drugs and those who foster and get gain from it in our community.  The fight on drugs is real and we must win,” said Aztec Police Chief Michael Heal. “The men and women working the Region II Task Force and those working in conjunction with them have done a fantastic job putting this operation together and I am proud of their efforts and the success that was accomplished.”

“I want to thank all of the participating agencies who assisted in today’s operation. Specifically, HSI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have shown a continuing commitment to our community,” said Lt. Neil Haws, Director of the HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force.  “I am very proud to have worked alongside the HSI and Region II Agents who worked this case for the past year.  This has been a very successful operation that will have a significant impact on our community.”

Today’s arrests are the result of an investigation by the HSI office in Albuquerque, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force, Bloomfield Police Department, Farmington Police Department and Aztec Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Reeve L. Swainston and Shana B. Long are prosecuting the federal case, and Assistant District Attorney David Cowen of the 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the state cases.  In addition to the investigating agencies, the following agencies participated in today’s law enforcement operation:  U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, New Mexico State Police, New Mexico Attorney General’s Office and HIDTA Region III Narcotics Task Force.

The HIDTA Region II Task Force is comprised of officers and investigators from the Farmington Police Department, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, Bloomfield Police Department and Aztec Police Department, and is part of 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.

Defendants Charged in Federal Case

Count 1 of the 15-count indictment filed in United States v. Anaya, et al., 14-CR-455 WJ, charges the 13 federal defendants with a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy.  Counts 2 and 3 each charge a defendant with distribution of methamphetamine.   Counts 4 through 6 each charges certain defendants with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.  The maximum penalty on conviction on each of these six counts is a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.  Counts 7 through 15 each charges certain defendants with using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense and carries a maximum of four years in prison and a $250,000 fine on conviction.  

The following individuals, who are in custody, are charged in the federal case:   

  • Isaac Anaya, 30, of Farmington, N.M., charged in Counts 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13 and 15 of the indictment.

  • Julia Oros, also known as Julia Gonzalez, 30, of Mesa, Ariz., charged in Counts 1, 7 and 10 of the indictment.

  • Curtis Murray, Sr., 50, of Farmington, N.M., charged in Counts 1 and 8 of the indictment.

  • Brandon Smith, 28, of Farmington, N.M., charged in Counts 1, 6, and 13 of the indictment.

  • Bobby Hampton, 29, of Bloomfield, N.M., charged in Counts 1 and 9 of the indictment.

  • Pedro Lucero, 37, of Farmington, N.M., charged in Counts 1, 5 and 10 of the indictment.

  • Yvonne Anaya, 38, of Bloomfield, N.M., charged in Counts 1 and 15 of the indictment. 

  • Robert Valdez, 50, of Bloomfield, N.M., charged in Counts 1 and 14 of the indictment.

  • Richard Archuleta, 32, of Bloomfield, N.M., charged in Counts 1 and 14 of the indictment. 

  • Ernesto Felix, 51, of [residence], N.M., charged in Counts 1 and 4 of the indictment.  Felix is in state custody on a related drug trafficking charge and will be transferred to federal custody.

  • Wesley Contreras, 19, of Farmington, N.M., charged in Counts 1 and 4 of the indictment.  Contreras is in state custody on a related drug trafficking charge and will be transferred to federal custody.

Two federal defendants, Fay Gordon, 29, of Farmington, N.M., who is charged in Counts 1 and 11 of the indictment, and Casey LaMotte, 28, of Flora Vista, N.M., who is charged in Counts 1 and 12 of the indictment, have yet to be arrested and are considered fugitives.

Defendants Charged in State Cases

The following defendants, who have been arrested, are charged in criminal complaints filed in the 11th Judicial District Court for the State of New Mexico:

  • Larry Abeyta, 25, of Farmington, N.M., arrested on a parole violation.

  • Cimmaron Archuleta, 32, of Bloomfield, N.M., arrested on a trafficking by possession with intent to distribute charge.

  • Patrick Archuleta, 34, of Farmington, N.M., arrested on trafficking of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) and felon in possession of a firearm charges.

  • Leonard Barela, 33, of Bloomfield, N.M., arrested on a trafficking of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) charge.

  • Phermond Begay, 32, of Aztec, N.M., arrested on a distribution of marijuana charge.

  • Rusty Betts, 32, of Farmington, N.M., arrested on a trafficking of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) charge.

  • Tiffany Bond, 33, of Farmington, N.M., arrested on a trafficking of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) charge.

  • Colby Crawford, 40, of Flora Vista, N.M., arrested on a trafficking of a controlled substance (heroin) charge.

  • Derek Hellickson, 26, of Farmington, N.M., arrested on a trafficking of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) charge.

  • Anthony Jones, 34, of Farmington, N.M., arrested on a trafficking of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) charge.

  • Aaron Mobley, 35, of Aztec, N.M., arrested on a trafficking of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) charge.

  • Amy Oros, 24, of Farmington, N.M., arrested on a possession of controlled substance (methamphetamine) charge.

  • Philippe Reyes, 35, of Farmington, N.M., arrested on a possession of controlled substance (methamphetamine) charge.

  • Leon Serrano, 30, of Bloomfield, N.M., arrested on a trafficking of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) charge.

  • Hollis Turner, 22, of Aztec, N.M., arrested on a trafficking of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) charge.

  • Jobie Wells, 38, of Bloomfield, N.M., arrested on a trafficking of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) charge.

Charges in indictments and criminal complaints are only accusations.  All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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