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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

Friday, April 29, 2016

Arizona Woman Pleads Guilty to Federal Heroin Trafficking Charge in New Mexico

Case Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Traci Marie Salinas, 30, of Phoenix, Ariz., pleaded guilty this morning in Albuquerque, N.M., to a federal heroin trafficking charge under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Salinas was arrested in Oct. 2015, after DEA agents seized approximately one kilogram (2.20 pounds) of heroin from her during a consensual search at the Greyhound Bus Station in Albuquerque.  According to the criminal complaint, Salinas had the package of heroin strapped around her waist.

Salinas was indicted on Nov. 5, 2015, and charged with possession of heroin with intent to distribute on Oct. 13, 2015, in Bernalillo County, N.M.

During today’s proceedings, Salinas pled guilty to the indictment and admitted that on Oct. 13, 2015, she transported heroin from Phoenix, Ariz., to New Mexico on the Greyhound Bus.  Salinas admitted strapping the heroin to her stomach and waist underneath her clothing.  Salinas further admitted that she picked up the heroin in Phoenix and expected to be paid to deliver the drugs to Columbus, Ohio.

At sentencing, Salinas faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.  A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the DEA.   Assistant U.S. Attorney Dean S. Tuckman is prosecuting the case 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.

Drug Trafficking
Updated April 29, 2016