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Press Release

Albuquerque Man Sentenced to 96 Months for Federal Drug Trafficking Conviction

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
Defendant Prosecuted Under “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative and HOPE Initiative, which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Ernest Cordova, 44, of Albuquerque, N.M., was sentenced today in federal court to 96 months in prison for his conviction on heroin and methamphetamine trafficking charges.  Cordova will be on supervised release for fouryears after completing his prison sentence.  The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez and Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy of the DEA’s El Paso Division.

Cordova, who has six prior felony convictions, was arrested in Feb. 2016, on a criminal complaint charging him with trafficking in heroin and methamphetamine from Jan. 22, 2016 through Feb. 18, 2016.  According to the criminal complaint, DEA agents observed Cordova engage in several drug deals in the Albuquerque-area during this period.  During the execution of a search warrant at Cordova’s residence on Feb. 18, 2016, the DEA found 134 grams of heroin and 82 grams of methamphetamine. 

Cordova and his co-defendant Sara Marie Martinez, 36, also of Albuquerque, were indicted on March 8, 2016.  The three-count indictment charged Cordova with participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy, and Cordova and Martinez with possessing heroin and methamphetamine with intent to distribute.  According to the indictment, Cordova and Martinez committed the three crimes in Bernalillo County, N.M.  The indictment included forfeiture provisions seeking an order requiring Cordova and Martinez to forfeit $8,840.27 to the United States.

Cordova pled guilty to the indictment on March 14, 2016, without the benefit of a plea agreement.  Martinez entered a guilty plea yesterday to heroin and methamphetamine trafficking charges without the benefit of a plea agreement. At sentencing, Martinez faces a statutory minimum of five years and maximum of 40 years in federal prison.  She remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the DEA and Cordova is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander M. Uballez as part 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 work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible. In recognition that New Mexico’s violent crime rates, on a per capita basis, are amongst the highest in the nation, New Mexico’s law enforcement community has come together to is collaborating the initiative is significantly exceed the national average. 

The case is also being prosecuted 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

Updated August 22, 2016

Drug Trafficking