Another Defendant Sentenced for Conviction Arising Out of ATF-Led Operation Targeting Drug Trafficking and Firearms Crime in Bernalillo County
Defendant among the 103 Individuals Federally Charged as the Result of ATF-Led Investigation Pursued in Support of Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative
ALBUQUERQUE – In Aug. 2016, a multi-agency investigation led by the ATF concluded with the filing of 59 federal indictments and a federal criminal complaint charging 103 Bernalillo County residents with federal firearms and narcotics trafficking offenses. To date, 85 of these defendants have been convicted, including 84 who have entered guilty pleas, and 65 of them have been sentenced.
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.
Today, Albuquerque resident Benjamin Marquez, 46, was sentenced in Santa Fe, N.M., federal court to 60 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release for his methamphetamine trafficking conviction.
Marquez and co-defendant Richard Lucero, 38, 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. On May 1, 2017, 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. Lucero pled guilty on Jan. 5, 2017, and was sentenced on Aug. 10, 2017, to 41 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
Fifteen of the defendants charged as the result of the ATF investigation have entered not guilty pleas. Charges in indictments are merely accusations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law. The charges against two defendants have been dismissed.
These cases were investigated by the Albuquerque office of ATF. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eva Fontanez.