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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Former Corrections Officer Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Distribute Narcotics in Doña Ana County Detention Center

ALBUQUERQUE – Francisco Balderrama, 27, of El Paso, Texas, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to conspiracy to distribute heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine within the Doña Ana County Detention Center (DACDC).  At the time he committed the offense, Balderrama was employed as a corrections officer at the DACDC.

Balderrama was arrested on Oct. 6, 2014, on a criminal complaint charging him with conspiracy to distribute narcotics and providing contraband in a prison facility.  The criminal complaint charged Balderrama with conspiring with co-defendants Virginia Aguirre, 54, and Delilah Morales, 23, both of Deming, N.M., and Brittany Huerta, 25, of Las Cruces to smuggle drugs and other contraband into the DACDC in June 2013.  According to the complaint, an investigation by officers of the DACDC revealed Balderrama was conspiring with Aguirre, Morales and Huerta to smuggle drugs and drug paraphernalia into the DACDC at the behest of two federal inmates who were being held at the Detention Center.

Balderrama, Aguirre, Huerta and Morales subsequently were indicted on Jan. 14, 2015, and charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine in June 2013.

During today’s change of plea hearing, Balderrama pled guilty to the indictment and admitted that from June 3, 2013 through June 16, 2013, two inmates arranged for him to meet with Aguirre and Morales for the purpose of receiving a package containing drugs and other contraband together with a smuggling fee of $300.00 that was provided by Huerta.  Balderrama further admitted that on June 16, 2013, Morales delivered the package of drugs and drug paraphernalia to him, and that he delivered the drugs and contraband to two inmates who were being held at the DACDC.

Aguirre, Huerta and Morales each pleaded guilty to the indictment earlier this month.  Each admitted that from June 3, 2013 through June 16, 2013, they conspired with each other to provide a package containing heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other contraband to Balderrama on the evening of June 16, 2013, with the understanding that he would smuggle the package into the DACDC in exchange for a $300.00 fee.

At sentencing, each of the four defendants faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison followed by not less than three years of supervised release.  Their sentencing hearings have yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the U.S. Marshals Service, the Doña Ana County Detention Center and the New Mexico State Police.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Edwin Garreth Winstead, III, is prosecuting the case.

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Updated March 31, 2015