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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 20, 2016

DEA Arrests Three Arizona Residents and Seizes Nine Pounds of Methamphetamine and 1.73 Pounds of Heroin During June 17, 2016 Interdiction Investigations at Greyhound Bus Station

ALBUQUERQUE – DEA agents arrested three Arizona residents and seized a total of nine pounds of methamphetamine and 1.73 pounds of heroin during interdiction investigations at the Greyhound Bus Station in Albuquerque, N.M., on June 17, 2016.  The three arrestees made their initial appearances in federal court this morning on separate criminal complaints.  They remain in custody pending preliminary hearings and detention hearings, which are scheduled for tomorrow.

Antonio Manuel Hernandez, 26, of Phoenix, Ariz., was arrested after DEA agents allegedly found him in possession of 2.55 gross kilograms (5.6 pounds) of methamphetamine.  According to the criminal complaint, Hernandez had bundles containing methamphetamine strapped around his abdomen that were concealed by his clothing.  If convicted of the charge in the complaint, Hernandez faces a statutory mandatory minimum of ten years and a maximum of life in prison.  Hernandez is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Hurtado.

Toni Baldonado, 23, of Tucson, Ariz., was arrested after DEA agents allegedly found her in possession of 1.55 gross kilograms (3.4 pounds) of methamphetamine.  The criminal complaint against Baldonado alleges that the drugs were concealed in the lining of Baldonado’s purse.  If convicted of the charge in the complaint, Baldonado faces a statutory mandatory minimum of ten years and a maximum of life in prison.  Baldonado is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. Spiers.

The criminal complaint against Johnathan Jacob Rios, 28, of Phoenix, Ariz., alleges that he was arrested after DEA agents found that he had concealed 788 gross grams (1.73 pounds) of heroin inside his jeans.  If convicted, Rios faces a statutory mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison.  Rios is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Presiliano A. Torrez.

Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.

The three cases were investigated by the DEA office in Albuquerque.  The case against Rios is being prosecuted 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, Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative, Healing Addiction in our Community (HAC) 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.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated June 21, 2016