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Justice News

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Espanola Man Sentenced to Prison for Violating Federal Narcotics Trafficking Laws

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Matthew Martinez, 38, of Espanola, N.M., was sentenced today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to 70 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his conviction on a heroin trafficking charge.  Martinez also was ordered to pay $500 in community restitution and to pay a $2,000 money judgment to the United States.

 Martinez was arrested on Dec. 3, 2015, on a three-count indictment charging him with heroin trafficking offenses.  The indictment charged Martinez with distributing heroin in Bernalillo County, N.M., on April 30, 2015.  It also charged Martinez with distributing heroin on two occasions in Santa Fe, N.M.; the first time on May 1, 2015 and the second on Sept. 16, 2015.

On March 21, 2016, Martinez pled guilty to distributing heroin on Sept. 16, 2015.  In his plea agreement, Martinez admitted selling approximately two ounces of heroin to an undercover FBI agent outside of a Santa Fe-area Walmart store.  By his own admission, Martinez is associated with the Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico (SNM) prison gang and became involved in the heroin trade as a result of his gang affiliation.

“New Mexico’s Espanola Valley has had one of the country’s highest heroin overdose death rates for decades.  Every time a heroin trafficker is removed from the Valley, the community continues its efforts to turn the tide against the heroin epidemic that has devastated its residents for generations,” said U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez.  “This prosecution is part of a bigger effort that we call HOPE.  The HOPE Initiative recognizes that law enforcement is only part of the answer, and that the community’s treatment, prevention and education needs must also be addressed.”

“New Mexico for too long has had the unenviable distinction of having one of the highest heroin-related death rates in the country,” said Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division.  “Today's sentence should send a clear signal the FBI is committed to bringing to justice those drug-traffickers who endanger our communities and destroy so many lives.  I would like to thank the FBI Special Agents and support staff, Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico Corrections Department for their work on this case, and I congratulate the U.S. Attorney's Office on a successful prosecution.”

The Santa Fe office of the FBI investigated this case with assistance from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office and the New Mexico Corrections Department.  The Organized Crimes Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case 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, 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

Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime
Updated July 26, 2016