Albuquerque Resident Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges Arising Out of January 2015 Pharmacy Robbery and March 2015 Traffic Stop
Defendant Prosecuted Pursuant to Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative and The HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Victor Hurtado, 20, of Albuquerque, N.M., pleaded guilty today in federal court to felony charges arising out of a pharmacy robbery in Jan. 2015, and a traffic stop in March 2015. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Hurtado will be sentenced within the range of ten to 18 years in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. Hurtado also will be required to pay restitution to the pharmacy.
The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, 2nd Judicial District Attorney Kari E. Brandenburg, Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division, Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy of the DEA’s El Paso Division, Chief Gorden Eden, Jr., of the Albuquerque Police Department, Chief Pete N. Kassetas of the New Mexico State Police.
Hurtado and his co-defendant, Joseph Montano, 22, also of Albuquerque, were two of six defendants charged in four indictments with robbing retail pharmacies in Albuquerque. The indictment against Hurtado and Montano alleged that the two men (1) violated the Hobbs Act by interfering with interstate commerce by robbery and violence; (2) brandished a firearm during a crime of violence; (3) violated the Controlled Substance Registrant Act by robbery involving controlled substance; (4) violated the Safe Doses Act by theft of medical products; and (5) possessed Oxycodone with intent to distribute. The charges against Hurtado and Montano arose from the Jan. 6, 2015, armed robbery of the Smith’s Pharmacy located at 4016 Louisiana Blvd. NE in Albuquerque.
During today’s proceedings, Hurtado pled guilty to Count 1, 2 and 5 of the indictment, charging him with robbing a commercial business engaged in interstate commerce; brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, and possession of Oxycodone with intent to distribute. In entering the guilty plea, Hurtado admitted that on Jan. 6, 2015, he entered the Smith’s Pharmacy, jumped over the counter while brandishing a firearm, and ordered the pharmacist to open the safe where controlled substances were kept. He also admitted pointing the firearm at the pharmacy employees to gain their compliance, and that he stole bottles of Oxycodone from the pharmacy’s inventory.
Hurtado also pled guilty to a one-count felony information charging him with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Hurtado admitted that he was arrested on state charges on March 5, 2015, after an officer of the New Mexico State Police found approximately 54 grams of heroin and 133 grams of methamphetamine in the vehicle Hurtado was driving. Hurtado admitted that he and another person intended to distribute the drugs seized by the New Mexico State Police.
Hurtado has been in federal custody since his arrest on April 29, 2015, and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
Montano has entered a not guilty plea to the indictment. He remains in federal custody pending trial. 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, the Tactical Diversion Squad of the DEA in Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Police Department and the New Mexico State Police, with assistance from the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Bernalillo County. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joel R. Meyers and Shaheen P. Torgoley.
DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squads combine DEA resources with those of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in an innovative effort to investigate, disrupt and dismantle those suspected of violating the Controlled Substances Act or other appropriate federal, state or local statutes pertaining to the diversion of licit pharmaceutical controlled substances or listed chemicals.
These cases are being prosecuted pursuant to 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.
The cases also are being prosecuted pursuant to the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative. The HOPE Initiative is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center that is partnering with the Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative with the overriding goal of reducing the number of opioid-related deaths in the District of New Mexico. The HOPE Initiative comprised of five components: (1) prevention and education; (2) treatment; (3) law enforcement; (4) reentry; and (5) strategic planning. The law enforcement component of the HOPE Initiative 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.