Albuquerque Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Narcotics Trafficking and Firearms Charges
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Jose Martinez-Encinias, 44, of Albuquerque, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court to drug trafficking and firearms charges. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Martinez-Encinias will be sentenced to 135 months in prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. The guilty plea was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney James D. Tierney and Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy of the DEA’s El Paso Division.
Martinez-Encinias is one of 14 defendants charged with drug trafficking and firearms offenses as the result of an 18-month investigation by DEA and the HIDTA Region I Narcotics Task Force into a drug trafficking organization allegedly led by David Reynolds, 34, of Albuquerque, N.M., that distributed large quantities of heroin in Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties, N.M. The investigation was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (“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.
Martinez-Encinias was arrested in June 2013, on a criminal complaint charging him with possessing heroin and cocaine with intent to distribute and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The criminal complaint charged Martinez-Encinias with committing the crimes on June 4, 2013, in Bernalillo County, N.M. Martinez-Encinias was indicted on the same charges on June 26, 2013.
The indictment was superseded on Dec. 4, 2013, to add 13 co-defendants, including Reynolds, and additional charges. The 15-count superseding indictment charged the defendants with conspiring to distribute heroin in Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties from Sept. 2012 through Dec. 2013. It also charged Gene Solis, 22, with distributing heroin on three occasions in fall 2012; Humberto Hernandez, Jr., 40, with distributing methamphetamine on seven occasions between Feb. and Aug. 2013; and Martinez-Encinias with possessing heroin and cocaine with intent to distribute in June 2013, and with possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Reynolds also was charged with money laundering. The superseding indictment included forfeiture provisions seeking a money judgment of at least $1.3 million and property and assets obtained directly or indirectly from the commission of the crimes alleged in the indictment. A second superseding indictment that added additional charges was filed on June 30, 2016.
During today’s proceedings, Martinez-Encinias pled guilty to possessing cocaine and heroin with intent to distribute and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. In entering the guilty plea, Martinez-Encinias admitted that on June 14, 2013, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at his residence and recovered approximately 2,032.8 grams of heroin, 1,090.6 grams of cocaine, numerous firearms and over $19,000 in cash. A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.
Six of Martinez-Encinias’ co-defendants previously entered guilty pleas and three have been sentenced. Teddy Archuleta, 35, of Albuquerque, pled guilty on Oct. 15, 2015, and was sentenced on Oct. 6, 2016, to time served followed by five years of supervised release. Miguel Baca, 41, of Albuquerque, pled guilty on June 6, 2016, and was sentenced on Nov. 15, 2016, to 37 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release. Daniel Jiron, 42, of Albuquerque, pled guilty on July 15, 2016, and was sentenced on Nov. 15, 2016, to 72 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Zebulun Smith, 35, of Albuquerque, pled guilty on Dec. 19, 2016, Hernandez pled guilty on Jan. 4, 2017, and Christopher Ortega, 44, of Albuquerque, pled guilty on Jan. 18, 2017. Smith, Hernandez and Ortega remain in custody pending sentencing hearings.
The remaining eight defendants have entered pleas of not guilty. If convicted on the drug trafficking charges in the superseding indictment, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of a mandatory minimum ten years to a maximum of life in prison. Reynolds faces up to ten years in prison if convicted on the money laundering charge. Charges in indictments and criminal complaints are only accusations. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the DEA and the HIDTA Region I Narcotics Task Force, with assistance from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy S. Vasquez and Joel R. Meyers pursuant to 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.
The HIDTA Region I Narcotics Task Force is comprised of the Albuquerque Police Department, Albuquerque office of the DEA, Pojoaque Tribal Police Department, Rio Rancho Police Department, Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office and the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office. 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.