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Press Release

El Paso Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Heroin Trafficking Conviction in New Mexico

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
Case Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Arturo Martinez, 23, of El Paso, Texas, was sentenced yesterday afternoon in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to 54 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for his heroin trafficking conviction.  His co-defendant Bryan Marinelarena, 21, a Mexican national, was sentenced on Feb. 23, 2016 to three years in prison for his heroin conviction.  Marinelarena will be deported after completing his prison sentence.

Martinez and Marinelarena were arrested on May 23, 2015, during a routine inspection at the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 10 in Doña Ana County, N.M.  According to the criminal complaint, agents found approximately 6.6 kilograms (14.6 pounds) of heroin concealed in the vehicle in which Martinez and Marinelarena were driving from El Paso to California.

On Aug. 4, 2015, Marinelarena and Martinez each pled guilty to a felony information charging them with participating in a heroin trafficking conspiracy.  Each admitted that on May 23, 2015, Border Patrol agents at the Interstate 10 checkpoint discovered 6.6 kilograms of heroin hidden in the engine of the SUV in which they were traveling. 

In entering their guilty pleas, each man also admitted that he expected to be paid for transporting the heroin from El Paso to California.  Martinez anticipated a $6,000 payment while Marinelarena expected to receive a $1,000 payment.

This case was investigated by the Las Cruces Station of the U.S. Border Patrol and the Las Cruces office of the DEA and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark A. Saltman of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.

The case was 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.

Updated February 25, 2016

Drug Trafficking