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Justice News

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

Friday, July 26, 2013

Federal Jury Finds Mexican National Guilty on Drug Trafficking and Firearms Charges

ALBUQUERQUE – A federal jury sitting in Albuquerque, N.M., returned a guilty verdict late yesterday afternoon against Yuren Aranda-Diaz, 34, a Mexican national illegally in the United States, on drug trafficking and firearms charges after a two-day trial.  The guilty verdict was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales, Special Agent in Charge Dennis A. Ulrich, II, of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in El Paso, Texas, and Chief Ray Schultz of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).

Aranda-Diaz was arrested on Oct. 2, 2012, on a criminal complaint on drug trafficking, firearms and immigration charges after he sold heroin to an APD informant.  Thereafter, Aranda-Diaz was indicted and charged with (1) being an alien in possession of a firearm; (2) being a felon in possession of a firearm; (3) possession of heroin with intent to distribute; (4) distribution of heroin; (5) using and carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime; and (6) unlawful re-entry into the United States after previously having been deported. 

Court filings reflect that Aranda-Diaz was prohibited from possessing firearms because he was an alien illegally in the United States.  He also was prohibited from possessing firearms because he previously had been convicted of re-entry by a deported alien on two occasions, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and being an alien in possession of a firearm in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.   He also previously had been convicted for possession of cocaine in the 2nd Judicial District Court for the State of New Mexico.

On the morning of July 24, 2013, Aranda-Diaz entered guilty pleas to Counts 1, 2 and 6 of the indictment and immediately thereafter proceeded to trial on Counts 3, 4 and 5 of the indictment.  The trial of the case concluded late yesterday afternoon when the jury returned a verdict finding Aranda-Diaz guilty on all three counts.

The evidence at trial established that on the afternoon of Oct. 2, 2012, a confidential informant working for APD purchased an ounce of heroin from Aranda-Diaz for $750.00, in the vicinity of 5th Street and Menaul Blvd. NW, in Albuquerque.  Shortly thereafter, APD officers arrested Aranda-Diaz and recovered the $750.00 used by the informant to purchase the heroin.  The officers also found a loaded pistol on the front seat of the passenger seat of Aranda-Diaz’s vehicle.  The jury deliberated for less than two hours before returning a guilty verdict on the three counts that were tried. 

Aranda-Diaz has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.  At sentencing,  Aranda-Diaz faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison on each of Counts 1, 2 and 6 of the indictment and 20 years in prison on each of Counts 3 and 4.  Aranda-Diaz also faces a mandatory five years in prison on Count 5 which must be served consecutive to any prison sentence imposed on the other five counts of the indictment.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of HSI and APD, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David M. Walsh and Novaline D. Wilson.

Updated January 26, 2015