California Woman Arrested on Federal Heroin and Methamphetamine Trafficking Charges
Case Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Graciela Meraz, 38, of Chula Vista, Calif., entered a not guilty plea this morning in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to a criminal complaint charging her with heroin and methamphetamine trafficking offenses. Meraz remains in custody pending trial which has yet to be scheduled.
Meraz was arrested on Feb. 4, 2015, and was charged with possession of heroin and methamphetamine with intent to distribute. According to court documents Meraz was arrested by DEA agents at the Greyhound Bus Station in Albuquerque after a consensual search of her baggage revealed that she was carrying more than a kilogram of heroin and more than four kilograms of methamphetamine.
If convicted on the charges in the criminal complaint, Meraz faces a maximum statutory sentence of not less than ten years and not more than life in prison. Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the Interdiction Unit of the DEA’s Albuquerque office which focuses on disrupting the flow of narcotics, weapons, and the proceeds of illegal activities as they are smuggled into or through New Mexico in passenger buses, passenger trains, commercial vehicles and automobiles. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei is prosecuting the case.
This case is being prosecuted pursuant to the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative. The HOPE Initiative is a collaboration between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center that is partnering with the Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative with the overriding goal of reducing the number of opioid-related deaths in the District of New Mexico. The HOPE Initiative comprised of five components: (1) prevention and education; (2) treatment; (3) law enforcement; (4) reentry; and (5) strategic planning. The law enforcement component of the HOPE Initiative 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 trafficking organizations for investigation and prosecution is a priority of the HOPE Initiative.