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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 1, 2016

Albuquerque Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Drug Trafficking Charges

Case Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Johnny Ramirez, 33, of Albuquerque, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court to violating federal drug trafficking laws.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Ramirez will be sentenced to 84 months in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.

Ramirez and his co-defendant Larry Valadez, 33, also of Albuquerque, were charged on Dec. 1, 2015, with drug trafficking offenses in an eight-count indictment.  Ramirez and Valadez were charged with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and heroin in May 2015, and with distributing methamphetamine and heroin in May 2015 and June 2015.  According to the indictment, all eight offenses occurred in Bernalillo County, N.M.  The indictment included forfeiture provisions, requiring Ramirez to forfeit $4,200 and Valadez to forfeit $4,100 to the United States.

During today’s proceedings, Ramirez pled guilty to two methamphetamine distribution counts and one heroin distribution count.  In entering the guilty plea, Ramirez admitted that on May 19, he arranged for a co-conspirator to sell 23.52 grams of methamphetamine and 4.3 grams of heroin to an individual who was working with the FBI.  Ramirez also admitted that on June 16, 2015, he sold 14.71 grams of methamphetamine to the same individual working with the FBI.  Ramirez acknowledged that the drug deals took place in Albuquerque. 

Ramirez remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

Valadez has entered a not guilty plea to the indictment.  Charges in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law. 

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the FBI and the New Mexico State Police.   The Organized Crimes Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case 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: 
Drug Trafficking
Updated August 1, 2016