56th Defendant Sentenced on Charges Arising out of ATF-Led Operation Targeting Drug Trafficking and Firearms Crime in Bernalillo County
Defendant among the 103 Individuals Federally Charged as the Result of ATF-Led Investigation Pursued in Support of Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative
ALBUQUERQUE – In Aug. 2016, a multi-agency investigation led by the ATF concluded with the filing of 59 federal indictments and a federal criminal complaint charging 103 Bernalillo County residents with federal firearms and narcotics trafficking offenses. To date, 84 of these defendants have been convicted, including 83 who have entered guilty pleas, and 56 of them have been sentenced.
The investigation was undertaken in support of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution. Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies collaborate with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution primarily based on their prior criminal convictions with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.
Today, Mexican national Antonio Perez-Contreras, 30, was sentenced to 108 months in prison for his conviction on drug trafficking and firearms charges. Perez-Contreras will be deported following his prison sentence.
Perez-Contreras and co-defendant Jesus Manuel Garcia, 43, of Albuquerque, were charged by indictment on June 30, 2016, with methamphetamine trafficking, firearms and illegal reentry offenses. The indictment was superseded on July 28, 2016, and again on Jan. 12, 2017. The ten-count second superseding indictment charged Perez-Contreras and Garcia with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine from May 3, 2016 through July 6, 2016, and distributing methamphetamine on May 18, 2016 and July 6, 2016. Perez-Contreras was charged individually with being an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition and illegal reentry into the United States on May 18, 2016, and distribution of methamphetamine on June 9, 2016. Garcia was charged individually with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition on May 17, 2016, May 18, 2016, June 7, 2016, and July 6, 2016. On Sept. 7, 2017, Perez-Contreras pled guilty to a felony information and admitted that on May 18, 2016, he distributed approximately 415.4 grams of methamphetamine to an undercover law enforcement agent. Perez-Contreras further admitted that he possessed a firearm and ammunition on May 18, 2016, and was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition because he was an alien unlawfully in the United States.
Sixteen of the defendants charged as the result of the ATF investigation have entered not guilty pleas. Charges in indictments are merely accusations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law. Two defendants are fugitives and the charges against two defendants have been dismissed.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of ATF and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elaine Y. Ramirez and Raquel Ruiz-Velez.