Arizona Woman Pleads Guilty to Federal Heroin Trafficking Charge in New Mexico
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative Which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Karla Margarita Pena, 28, of Phoenix, Ariz., pled guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to a heroin trafficking charge under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Pena was arrested in Aug. 2016, and charged in a criminal complaint with a heroin trafficking offense after the DEA seized approximately 561.90 grams of heroin from her during an interdiction investigation at the Greyhound Bus Station in Albuquerque. The heroin was contained in bundles concealed in Pena’s luggage.
Pena was subsequently indicted on Aug. 23, 2016, and charged with possession of heroin with intent to distribute on Aug. 12, 2016, in Bernalillo County, N.M.
During today’s proceedings, Pena pled guilty to a felony information charging her with possession of heroin with intent to distribute. In entering the guilty plea, Pena admitted transporting 561.90 grams of heroin to Albuquerque by concealing the heroin in bundles in a purse inside of a duffel bag. At sentencing, Pena 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 Kimberly A. Brawley is prosecuting this 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 the DEA, the Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative, Healing Addiction in our Community (HAC), the Albuquerque Public Schools 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.