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Press Release

Arizona Man Pleads Guilty to Trafficking Methamphetamine in New Mexico

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Emery Lee Begay, 31, of Lakeside, Ariz., pleaded guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Socorro and Catron Counties, N.M.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Begay will be sentenced to 60 months in federal prison followed by not less than three years of supervised release.

Begay and his co-defendant Jorge Luis Garcia-Valenzuela, 22, a Mexican national residing in Lakeside, Ariz., were arrested on Oct. 25, 2014, after they traveled to Quemado, N.M., with the intention of selling methamphetamine and marijuana to undercover officers.  According to the complaint, on Aug. 19, 2015, Begay delivered approximately 22.6 grams of methamphetamine and approximately three kilograms of marijuana to the undercover officers in Socorro, N.M., after Garcia-Valenzuela allegedly negotiated the drug deal with the officers.  The complaint also alleges that Garcia-Valenzuela and Begay were arrested on Oct. 25, 2014, in Quemado when they arrived to consummate a drug deal with the undercover officers.  The officers allegedly seized approximately 800 grams of methamphetamine and more than eight kilograms of marijuana when they arrested the two men.

Begay and Garcia-Valenzuela were subsequently indicted on Nov. 19, 2014, and charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and marijuana, distribution of methamphetamine and marijuana, and possession of methamphetamine and marijuana with intent to distribute.  According to the indictment, the offenses were committed between Aug. 19, 2014 and Oct. 25, 2014, in Socorro and Catron Counties.

During today’s proceedings, Begay pled guilty to a felony information charging him with conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute.  Begay has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

Garcia-Valenzuela has entered a plea of not guilty to the complaint and indictment.  He remains in federal custody pending his trial which is currently scheduled for July 2015.  If convicted on the charges in the indictment, Garcia-Valenzuela faces a statutory mandatory minimum of ten years and a maximum of life in prison.  Charges in indictments and complaints are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque and Gallup offices of the FBI, the Southern Pueblos Agency of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services and the Ramah Navajo Tribal Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elaine Y. Ramirez.

Updated May 21, 2015