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Press Release


For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – A federal jury sitting in Albuquerque, N.M., returned a guilty verdict yesterday against Gaspar Leal, 49, of Albuquerque, on methamphetamine trafficking charges today after a two-day trial before U.S. District Judge James O. Browning.  The verdict was announced by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred J. Federici and Special Agent in Charge Monique Y. Villegas of the Phoenix Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Leal and co-defendants Daniel Carmona, 32, and Luis Arreola-Palma, 25, both also of Albuquerque, originally were indicted in Aug. 2016.  The indictment charged the three defendants with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, and Carmona alone with two methamphetamine trafficking offenses and using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  Arreola-Palma pled guilty to a methamphetamine charge in July 2017, and he was sentenced to 48 months of imprisonment in Oct. 2017.  Carmona pled guilty to a firearms charge in Dec. 2017, and was sentenced to 60 months of imprisonment in March 2018.

In Dec. 2017, a federal grand jury filed a three-count superseding indictment charging Leal with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and two counts of aiding and abetting the distribution of methamphetamine.  According to the superseding indictment, Leal committed the crimes between July 21, 2016 and Aug. 3, 2016, in Bernalillo County, N.M. 

Trial of Leal on the three-count superseding indictment began on July 22, 2019.  The trial concluded on the evening of July 23, 2019, when the jury a verdict of guilty on the conspiracy charge, and of acquittal on the two distribution charges.

            The evidence at trial established that in May 2016, the ATF initiated an undercover investigation into Leal, who was self-employed as a barber, and used an informant to assist in the investigation.  Working under the direction of ATF Special Agents, the informant contacted Leal to schedule a haircut appointment, and at Leal’s invitation, went to Leal’s apartment on May 7, 2016, where he met Leal for the first time.

            Trial evidence established that on July 21, 2016, Leal, who was in custody in connection with another federal case, called the informant to set up a methamphetamine deal.  On July 24, 2016, Leal and Arreola-Palma, both of whom were in custody, called the informant and asked the informant to call Carmona to arrange a methamphetamine deal.  During the call, Leal provided the informant with Carmona’s phone number.  On July 25, 2016, the informant called Carmona to arrange the methamphetamine deal.  On July 25, 2016, the informant and an undercover ATF Special Agent purchased methamphetamine from Carmona.

The evidence presented to the jury included testimony from the informant and an ATF Special Agent, the recorded telephone conversations, and the methamphetamine Carmona sold to the informant and the undercover ATF Special Agent at the direction of Leal. 

Leal has been in federal custody since Oct. 2016, and will remain detained pending his sentencing hearing in this case, which has yet to be scheduled.  Leal also is pending sentencing for a conviction on a methamphetamine trafficking charge in another federal case.  A sentencing hearing in that case has yet to be scheduled. 

At sentencing in this case, Leal faces a mandatory minimum of ten years and a maximum of life imprisonment, and in his other case, Leal faces a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years of imprisonment.  Based on his prior criminal convictions, Leal faces enhanced sentencing exposure under the applicable sentencing guidelines.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of ATF with assistance from the DEA in Albuquerque, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samuel A. Hurtado and Norman Cairns.

Updated July 25, 2019

Press Release Number: 19-114