You are here

Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Jose Torrez sentenced to 17 years in federal prison on two separate cases involving conspiracy to kidnap, stolen mail and bank fraud scheme

          ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Jose Torrez, 48, of Albuquerque, was sentenced on June 10 in federal court to 17 consecutive years in prison on two separate cases. Upon his release from prison, he will be subject to a combined term of five years of supervised release.

           In one case, Torrez pleaded guilty on Feb. 13, 2020, to conspiracy to kidnap. According to the defendants’ plea agreements, Torrez, Chase Smothermon, 32, and Mariah Ferry, 22, along with other co-conspirators took part in a scheme to retaliate against two victims who they believed stole marijuana and money from Smothermon’s home where he resided with Ferry.  On Aug. 5, Smothermon called Torrez and told him his someone had stolen marijuana and money from his home. Torrez told Smothermon he believed the victims, J.S. and M.T., were responsible for taking the drugs and money. On Aug. 8, 2017, Torrez alerted Smothermon that J.S. was present at Torrez’s home. Smothermon went to Torrez’s home to retaliate against J.S. and try to get his drugs and money back. Ferry drove Smothermon to Torrez’s home where Smothermon and co-conspirators brutally beat J.S. with a baseball bat and the butt of a gun.

            Smothermon and co-conspirators then put J.S. in the trunk of Ferry’s car and bound J.S.’s hands, ankles, and mouth with tape.  Ferry drove Smothermon and J.S. to another co-conspirator’s home where J.S. died shortly thereafter. Ferry and Smothermon then mutilated J.S.’s body in a shed.  Later the same day, Smothermon contacted M.T. under a ruse that Smothermon wanted to buy marijuana from M.T.  When M.T. arrived at Smothermon’s home, Smothermon, Ferry and others bound, gagged and assaulted M.T. for hours. After several hours, two other co-conspirators escorted a bound and badly beaten M.T. out of Smothermon’s home and drove him to another location where M.T. was held overnight before M.T. was released.  On Aug. 9, 2017, Ferry drove Smothermon and another co-conspirator to a rural area in New Mexico where they buried J.S.’s body in a shallow grave.

            Ferry pleaded guilty on Feb. 13, 2020, to kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap, resulting in the death of J.S. She was sentenced to 30 years in prison on June 26, 2020.

            Smothermon pleaded guilty on Jan. 24, 2020, to kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap, resulting in the death of J.S. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison on Aug. 28, 2020.

            For this case, Torrez was sentenced to 14 years in prison. The DEA and FBI investigated this case with assistance from the Albuquerque Police Department and Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The Narcotics section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case.

            In the other case, Torrez pleaded guilty on July 19, 2019, to conspiracy, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and possession of solen mail. According to the plea agreement, Torrez participated in a scheme with his wife and co-defendant, Christina Torrez, 46, to steal mail containing credit cards, debit cards, checks and personal information that could be used to commit more theft. Torrez and his wife accessed bank accounts using stolen identities and withdrew money from the accounts.  They used stolen credit and debit cards to buy merchandise from various stores totaling more than $10,000. They also cashed checks from multiple banks and credit unions using false identification. During the scheme, Torrez and his wife obtained United States Postal Service uniforms, badges and keys to assist them in stealing mail.

           Christina Torrez pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and possession of stolen mail on July 19, 2019. On Jan. 30, 2020, she was sentenced to three years and three months in prison.

           For this case, Torrez was sentenced to three years in prison to run consecutively with the 14-year sentence for the kidnapping case for a total of 17 years. The United States Postal Inspection Service investigated this case with assistance from the Albuquerque Police Department, the Sandia Tribal Police and the Laguna Pueblo Police Department. Assistant U.S Attorney Kimberly A. Brawley prosecuted the case.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 
21-118
Updated June 16, 2021