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Justice News

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

Monday, February 26, 2018

El Paso, Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Heroin and Methamphetamine Trafficking Charges in New Mexico

Defendant Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Jesus Gerardo Prieto, Jr., 38, of El Paso, Texas, pled guilty today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to heroin and methamphetamine trafficking charges.

Prieto was arrested in Oct. 2017, on a criminal complaint charging him with heroin and methamphetamine trafficking offenses on Oct. 17, 2017, in Dona Ana County, N.M.  U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested Prieto at the checkpoint in Las Cruces after seizing approximately 432 grams of methamphetamine and 117 grams of heroin that were concealed inside Prieto’s vehicle.

Prieto subsequently was charged in a five-count indictment on Jan. 17, 2018, with distributing methamphetamine on Aug. 29, 2017, in Dona Ana County; distributing methamphetamine and heroin on Oct. 6, 2017, in Luna County, N.M.; and possession of methamphetamine and heroin with intent to distribute on Oct. 19, 2017, in Dona Ana County. 

During today’s proceedings, Prieto pled guilty to the indictment without the benefit of a plea agreement.  At sentencing, Prieto faces a mandatory minimum penalty of ten years and a maximum of life in federal prison.  Prieto remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. 

This case was investigated by the U.S. Border Patrol and the Border Enforcement Security Taskforce of Homeland Security Investigations.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brock E. Taylor of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office pursuant to 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, the Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative, Healing Addiction in our Community (HAC), the Albuquerque Public Schools 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.

Drug Trafficking
Updated February 26, 2018