California Woman Pleads Guilty to 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., pleaded guilty this morning in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to heroin and methamphetamine trafficking charges.
Meraz was arrested on Feb. 4, 2015, and was charged in a criminal complaint 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. Meraz was subsequently indicted on those same charges on Feb. 25, 2015.
During today’s proceedings, Meraz pled guilty to a two-count felony information charging her with possession of methamphetamine and heroin with intent to distribute. In entering the guilty plea, Meraz admitted that on Feb. 4, 2015, she was paid by an individual to transport approximately 9.24 pounds of methamphetamine and 2.53 pounds of heroin from Los Angeles, Calif. to Oklahoma City, Okla., when she was arrested by DEA agents.
At sentencing, Meraz faces a statutory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison followed by not less than four years of supervised release. Meraz remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.
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 collaborative effort 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.