Albuquerque Woman Sentenced for Conviction Arising Out of Armed Robbery of Retail Pharmacy in January 2015
Pharmacy Robbery Cases Prosecuted Under HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico & Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative
ALBUQUERQUE – Josephine Duran, 24, of Albuquerque, N.M., was sentenced this morning in federal court to 57 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for her conviction on prescription drug trafficking and theft of medical products charges arising out of the armed robbery of an Albuquerque-area retail pharmacy in Jan. 2015.
The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, 2nd Judicial District Attorney Kari E. Brandenburg, Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division, Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy of the DEA’s El Paso Division and Chief Gorden Eden, Jr., of the Albuquerque Police Department.
Duran was one of six defendants charged in four indictments that were announced by federal and local officials on April 29, 2015. The indictments charged the six defendants with robbing retail pharmacies in Albuquerque to illegally obtain Oxycodone and other highly addictive opioid prescription painkillers. The four indictments charged Duran, her co-defendant Blake Gallardo, 23, and four other Albuquerque residents with crimes arising out of the armed robberies of retail pharmacies, including violations of the Controlled Substance Registrant Protection Act and the Safe Doses Act, laws passed to address the theft and diversion of prescription drugs.
At the time the indictments were announced, Duran and Gallardo had not been arrested and were considered fugitives. Thereafter, Duran was arrested on May 22, 2015, and Gallardo was arrested on June 11, 2015.
Duran and Gallardo were charged with (1) violating the Hobbs Act by interfering with interstate commerce by robbery and violence; (2) brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence; (3) violating the Controlled Substance Registrant Act by committing robbery involving controlled substance; (4) violating the Safe Doses Act by committing theft of medical products; and (5) possession of Oxycodone with intent to distribute. The charges arose out of the armed robbery of a Walgreens Pharmacy located at 6565 Paradise Blvd. NW in Albuquerque on Jan. 30, 2015.
On Sept. 24, 2015, Duran entered a guilty plea to Count 5 of the indictment charging her with possession of Oxycodone with intent to distribute, and to a felony information charging her with theft of medical products. In her plea agreement, Duran acknowledged knowing about the robbery in advance. Duran also admitted taking Gallardo’s loaded firearm and drugs stolen from the Walgreens Pharmacy on Jan. 30, 2015, while Gallardo attempted to flee from law enforcement. Duran admitted that she intended to distribute the stolen Oxycodone.
On Sept. 4, 2015, Gallardo entered a guilty plea to Counts 1, 2, 3 and 5 of the indictment. He also pleaded guilty to a felony information charging him with robbery involving controlled substance, a charge arising out of the June 6, 2015 robbery of a Walgreens Pharmacy located at 1201 Unser Blvd. NW in Albuquerque. In his plea agreement, Gallardo admitted robbing both Walgreens Pharmacies at gunpoint.
With respect to the Jan. 30, 2015 robbery, Gallardo entered the pharmacy, jumped over the pharmacy counter while brandishing a firearm, and ordered the pharmacist to open a locker in which controlled substances were stored. Gallardo pointed his firearm at the pharmacist, took her keys, opened the locker, and filled a bag with Oxycodone. Gallardo and Duran were arrested on state charges shortly after the robbery. With respect to the June 6, 2015 robbery, the plea agreement states that Gallardo was armed with a firearm when he entered the pharmacy and jumped over the pharmacy counter. He grabbed two pharmacy employees and directed them to the pharmacy’s controlled substance locker. Gallardo took several bottles of Oxycodone from the locker and ran out of the pharmacy.
Gallardo was sentenced on Dec. 15, 2015, to 15 years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.
The pharmacy robbery cases involving the other four defendants have been resolved as follows:
On July 1, 2015, Victor Hurtado, 20, pled guilty to felony charges arising out of the Jan. 6, 2015, armed robbery of the Smith’s Pharmacy located at 4016 Louisiana Blvd. NE in Albuquerque. Hurtado was sentenced on Dec. 10, 2015, to 141 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release.
On Sept. 17, 2015, Valentin Garcia, 23, pled guilty to felony charges arising out of the Jan. 30, 2015, armed robbery of the CVS Pharmacy located at 4201 Montano in Albuquerque.Garcia was sentenced on Dec. 17, 2015, to ten years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.
On Nov. 17, 2015, Roy Christopher 29, pled guilty to felony charges arising out of the Aug. 3, 2014, robbery of a CVS pharmacy in Albuquerque.Christopher was sentenced on April 8, 2016, to 41 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
On Jan. 19, 2016, Joseph Montano, 23, pled guilty to felony charges arising out of the Jan. 6, 2015, armed robbery of the Smith’s Pharmacy located at 4016 Louisiana Blvd. NE in Albuquerque. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Montano will be sentenced within the range of 80 to 120 months in federal prison.
These cases were investigated by the Albuquerque office of the FBI, the Tactical Diversion Squad of the DEA in Albuquerque, and the Albuquerque Police Department, with assistance from the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Bernalillo County. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shaheen P. Torgoley and Joel R. Meyers.
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.
The Controlled Substance Registrant Protection Act was enacted in 1984, to combat the theft of prescription drugs from individuals and businesses registered with the DEA. It created penalties for entering a pharmacy’s premises for the purpose of stealing controlled substances, and includes enhanced punishment for using a dangerous weapon. The Safe Doses Act was enacted in Oct. 2012, to fight medical theft and protect patients from unknowingly using stolen and mishandled drugs. It provides for enhanced sentences for those who rob pharmacies of controlled substances; individuals who steal medical products; and “fences” who knowingly obtain stolen medical products for resale in the supply chain.
These pharmacy robbery cases were 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. Because New Mexico’s violent crime rates, on a per capita basis, are amongst the highest in the nation, New Mexico’s law enforcement community is collaborating to target repeat offenders from counties with the highest violent crime rates, including Bernalillo County, under this initiative.
The cases also were 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 Bernalillo County, DEA, Healing Addiction in our Community (HAC) 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.