Albuquerque Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Methamphetamine Trafficking Charge
ALBUQUERQUE – Benjamin Marquez, 42, of Albuquerque, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court to a methamphetamine trafficking charge. Marquez’s plea agreement includes a recommendation of 60 months of imprisonment followed by a period of supervised release to be determined by the court.
Marquez and his co-defendant Richard Lucero, 37, were arrested during an ATF-led investigation that resulted in the filing of 59 federal indictments and a federal criminal complaint charging 104 Bernalillo County residents with federal firearms and narcotics trafficking offenses. The investigation began in mid-April 2016, when ATF personnel from throughout the country joined forces with federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies in New Mexico to combat the high rate of violent crime in the Albuquerque metropolitan area. The investigators utilized a number of investigative techniques, including undercover operations, historical investigation and targeting of multi-convicted felons in possession of firearms.
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.
Marquez and Lucero were arrested in Aug. 2016, on a five-count indictment alleging drug trafficking offenses. Marquez was charged individually with distribution of heroin on May 5, 2016, and Marquez and Lucero were charged with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine from May 6, 2016 through June 1, 2016, and distribution of methamphetamine on May 6, 2016, May 18, 2016, and June 1, 2016. According to the indictment, the offenses took place in Bernalillo County.
During today’s proceedings, Marquez pled guilty to distributing methamphetamine, and admitted that on June 1, 2016, he sold approximately 60 grams of methamphetamine to an undercover law enforcement agent. Marquez remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
To date, 45 of the 104 defendants including Lucero have entered guilty pleas, and 18 have been sentenced. The remaining defendants have entered not guilty pleas. Charges in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
These cases were investigated by the Albuquerque office of ATF. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eva Fontanez.