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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Albuquerque Felon Facing Federal Drug Trafficking and Firearms Charges

Smith Prosecuted Under Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative and HOPE Initiative Which Seeks to Reduce Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – During a hearing yesterday, a U.S. Magistrate Judge sitting in Albuquerque, N.M., found probable cause to support a criminal complaint charging Michael Gerard Smith, 55, of Albuquerque, with violating the federal narcotics and firearms laws. Today, the Magistrate Judge entered an order holding Smith in federal custody pending trial based on judicial findings that he poses a risk of flight and danger to the community. The federal charges against Smith were announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy of DEA’s El Paso Division, and Chief Gorden G. Eden, Jr., of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).

 

Smith, whose criminal history includes 11 prior felony convictions for drug trafficking, robbery, false imprisonment and forgery offenses, is being prosecuted under the 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 work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders primarily based on their prior criminal convictions for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible. Because New Mexico’s violent crime rate, on a per capita basis, is one of the highest in the nation, New Mexico’s law enforcement community is collaborating to target repeat offenders from counties with the highest violent crime rates.

 

Smith was arrested on Feb. 3, 2017, and charged by criminal complaint with methamphetamine and heroin trafficking offenses, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to the criminal complaint, APD officers allegedly seized approximately 94.5 grams of methamphetamine, 34.9 grams of heroin, a handgun, and cash in denominations consistent with street level drug trafficking while executing a search warrant at Smith’s residence.

 

If convicted, Smith faces a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of ten years and a maximum of life in prison on the drug trafficking charges, and a maximum of ten years in in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. If deemed an armed career criminal, Smith faces an enhanced penalty of not less than 15 years in prison for unlawfully possessing a firearm, and the potential of a life sentence on the drug trafficking charges if the United States files a prior felony information.

 

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

 

The case against Smith was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the DEA and the APD, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman Cairns as part of the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative. The HOPE Initiative was launched in January 2015 by the UNM Health Sciences Center and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in response to the national opioid epidemic, which has had a disproportionately devastating impact on New Mexico. Opioid addiction has taken a toll on public safety, public health and the economic viability of our communities. Working in partnership with the DEA, the Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative, Healing Addiction in our Community (HAC), the Albuquerque Public Schools and other community stakeholders, HOPE’s principal goals are to protect our communities from the dangers associated with heroin and opioid painkillers and reducing the number of opioid-related deaths in New Mexico.

 

The HOPE Initiative is comprised of five components: (1) prevention and education; (2) treatment; (3) law enforcement; (4) reentry; and (5) strategic planning. HOPE’s law enforcement component is led by the Organized Crime Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the DEA in conjunction with their federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners. Targeting members of major heroin and opioid trafficking organizations for investigation and prosecution is a priority of the HOPE Initiative. Learn more about the New Mexico HOPE Initiative at http://www.HopeInitiativeNM.org.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated February 7, 2017