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Justice News

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

Monday, February 5, 2018

California Man Sentenced to Five Years for Federal Heroin Trafficking Conviction in New Mexico

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Jamell Damian Harris, Jr., 38, of Los Angeles, Calif., was sentenced this afternoon in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to 60 months in prison for his heroin trafficking conviction.  Harris will be on supervised release for four years after completing his prison sentence.

The DEA arrested Harris in July 2017, after seizing approximately 470 grams (1.04 pounds) of heroin from him during an interdiction investigation at the Amtrak Train Station in Albuquerque.  The criminal complaint setting forth the charge against Harris stated that the heroin was concealed in a suitcase belonging to Harris’ travel companion.

Harris subsequently was indicted on Aug. 8, 2017, and was charged with conspiracy and possession of heroin with intent to distribute on July 13, 2017, in Bernalillo County, N.M.

On Sept. 27, 2017, Harris pled guilty to Count 2 of the indictment charging him with possession of heroin with intent to distribute.  In entering the guilty plea, Harris admitted transporting approximately 390.90 grams of heroin from Victorville, Calif., to Albuquerque on the Amtrak train by concealing the heroin inside a shopping bag of men’s clothing in a suitcase belonging to his traveling companion.  Harris also admitted that he intended to give the heroin to another individual for further distribution when he reached his final destination of Chicago.

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

Drug Trafficking
Updated February 5, 2018