Federal Jury in New Mexico Finds Two Men Guilty of Cocaine and Heroin Trafficking Charges
Defendants Guilty of Trafficking 105.6 Pounds of Cocaine and 11.55 Pounds of Heroin: Defendants Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – A federal jury sitting in Las Cruces, N.M., returned a verdict today finding Jose Remberto Guzman-Dominguez, 33, and Miguel Angel Rodriguez-Flores, 47, guilty of narcotics trafficking charges after a five-day trial. U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge Waldemar Rodriguez of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in El Paso, New Mexico State Police Chief Pete N. Kassetas, and Deputy Chief Jimmy Glascock of the New Mexico Motor Transportation Police announced the verdict.
Guzman-Dominguez, a legal permanent resident from El Salvador who was residing in Las Vegas, Nev., and Rodriguez-Flores, of Hawthorne, Calif., were arrested on Nov. 14, 2015, on a criminal complaint after officers of the New Mexico Motor Transportation Police found approximately 117.15 pounds (53.14 kilograms) of narcotics in their commercial tractor-trailer during a routine inspection at the port of entry on Interstate 10 near Lordsburg, N.M. The two men subsequently were indicted on Feb. 17, 2016, on charges that they conspired to distribute cocaine and heroin and possessed cocaine and heroin with intent to distribute. According to the indictment, defendants committed the three offenses in Hidalgo County, N.M., on the evening of Nov. 13, 2014 and the early morning of Nov. 14, 2015.
Trial on the three-count indictment began July 11, 2016, and concluded this afternoon when the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts of the indictment. The evidence at trial established that late on Nov. 13, 2015, and into the early hours of Nov. 14, 2015, the defendants were traveling in a commercial tractor-trailer from Phoenix, Ariz., to Lordsburg. When they entered the port of entry on Interstate 10 in Hidalgo County, the New Mexico Motor Transportation Police stopped their commercial tractor-trailer to conduct a safety inspection. After identifying several safety violations, the inspector continued with a cargo inspection and found that the trailer was fully loaded with large containers of industrial cleaning solution. While inspecting the cargo, the inspector found four cardboard boxes that were different from the industrial cleaning solution containers. One of the boxes was open and contained several cellophane wrapped bundles. Because of Guzman-Dominguez’s nervous behavior and his interest in the contents of the four boxes, the inspector requested assistance from the New Mexico State Police. The officers opened one of the cellophane bundles and found that it contained white powder that tested positive for cocaine. The four boxes contained 51 bundles with a gross weight of 53.14 kilograms.
The jury learned that laboratory tests later performed on the contents of the 51 bundles determined that 46 of the packages contained an aggregate of 105.6 pounds (47.9 kilograms) of cocaine and five packages contained an aggregate of 11.55 pounds (5.24 kilograms) of heroin.
The jury returned its guilty verdict after deliberating approximately four-and-a-half hours.
At sentencing, Guzman-Dominguez and Rodriguez-Flores each face a statutory penalty of a mandatory minimum of ten years and a maximum of life in federal prison. Guzman-Dominguez will be deported after completing his prison sentence. Both remain in custody pending sentencing hearings, which have yet to be scheduled.
The Border Enforcement Security Taskforce of the Las Cruces office of Homeland Security Investigations, New Mexico State Police, and New Mexico Motor Transportation Police investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brock Taylor and Richard Williams of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office are prosecuting 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. 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.