ALBUQUERQUE – Kenneth Dickerson, 56, of Carlsbad, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to methamphetamine trafficking charges under a plea agreement requiring him to be sentenced to 36 months of imprisonment followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court
Dickerson pled guilty to charges resulting from a multi-agency investigation into a criminal organization that allegedly was trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine and firearms in southeastern New Mexico in spring 2017. The investigation initiated by the DEA, ATF and the HIDTA Region VI Pecos Valley Drug Task Force and initially targeted a methamphetamine trafficking organization operating in southeastern New Mexico that allegedly was supplied by Daniel P. Bruton, 39, of Artesia, N.M., and Marcos A. Martinez, 31, of Roswell, N.M. The investigative team quickly expanded to include HSI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Border Patrol, the New Mexico State Police, the Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force, and the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, and the investigative targets expanded to include other alleged drug traffickers in Eddy and Chaves Counties. The investigation was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, a Department of Justice program that combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations. During the investigation, law enforcement authorities seized more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine and 44 firearms.
Dickerson, Bruton and Martinez were charged along with seven other co-defendants in a 34-count indictment filed on Oct. 3, 2017, that alleges that Dickerson, Bruton, Martinez and their co-defendants conspired to violate the federal narcotics trafficking and firearms laws from May 2017 through Oct. 2017 in Eddy and Chaves Counties and elsewhere in New Mexico. The indictment includes 55 overt acts that discuss the conspiracy’s operations, including the quantities of methamphetamine – ranging from multiple ounces to five pounds – allegedly distributed by the defendants on a routine basis. It also describes the firearms – including assault rifles that allegedly were to be smuggled into Mexico – allegedly used by the defendants in relation to their drug trafficking activities.
During today’s proceedings, Dickerson pled guilty to two counts of the indictment charging him with conspiracy and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. In entering the guilty plea, Dickerson admitted that between April 2017 and July 2017, he conspired with his codefendants to distribute methamphetamine in Eddy County. Dickerson further admitted that on April 19, 2017, he distributed 6.9 grams of pure methamphetamine to an individual working with law enforcement, and on July 27, 2017, he picked up approximately 116.62 grams of pure methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it to other individuals. A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.
One of Dickerson’s co-defendant, Chelcy A. Vasquez, 26, of Dexter, N.M., previously entered a guilty plea on Feb. 5, 2018, to methamphetamine trafficking charges and the use of a cellular phone in the commission of a drug trafficking crime. At sentencing, Vasquez faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.
The remaining eight co-defendants have entered pleas of not guilty to the charges against them. Charges in indictments and criminal complaints are only accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
These cases were investigated by the DEA, ATF, HSI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Border Patrol, the New Mexico State Police, the HIDTA Region VI Pecos Valley Drug Task Force, the HIDTA Region VI Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force, and the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Clara N. Cobos and Assistant U.S. Attorney Renee L. Camacho of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office are prosecuting the cases filed as the result of the investigation.
The Pecos Valley Drug Task Force is comprised of officers from the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, Carlsbad Police Department and Artesia Police Department and is part of the HIDTA Region VI Drug Task Force. The HIDTA Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force is comprised of investigators from the Roswell Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI and the Chaves County Sherriff’s Office. The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. HIDTA is a program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) which provides assistance to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States and seeks to reduce drug trafficking and production by facilitating coordinated law enforcement activities and information sharing.