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Press Release

California Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Heroin Trafficking Charge in New Mexico

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative Which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Lionel Gerardo Rojas, 72, of Lake Forest, Calif., pled guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to a narcotics trafficking charge arising out of a 4.6-pound heroin seizure on Aug. 31, 2016.


Rojas was arrested on Aug. 31, 2016 and charged by a criminal complaint with a heroin trafficking offense after the DEA seized approximately 2.1 kilograms (4.62 pounds) of heroin during an interdiction investigation at the Greyhound Bus Station in Albuquerque. The heroin was concealed in three bundles inside Rojas’ backpack. Rojas subsequently was indicted on Sept. 27, 2016, and charged with possessing heroin with intent to distribute in Bernalillo County, N.M.


During today’s proceedings, Rojas pled guilty to a felony information charging him with possession of heroin with intent to distribute. In entering the guilty plea, Rojas admitted that on Aug. 31, 2016, he transported three bundles of heroin in a backpack from Phoenix, Ariz., to New Mexico on a Greyhound bus. Rojas further admitted that he had intended to deliver the heroin to Columbus, Ohio, for further distribution.


Rojas remains in federal custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Rojas faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.


This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the DEA and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rumaldo R. Armijo 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

Updated March 9, 2017

Drug Trafficking