Las Cruces Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Narcotics Trafficking Charges
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – George Ventura, 46, of Las Cruces, N.M., pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon in federal court in to cocaine trafficking charges under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Ventura and his co-defendant Luis Cipriano, 42, also of Las Cruces, were charged in a four-count indictment on May 20, 2015, with a conspiracy charge and three cocaine distribution charges. According to the indictment, Ventura and Cipriano conspired to distribute cocaine from Aug. 5, 2014 through Nov. 13, 2014 in Doña Ana County, N.M. The indictment also charged Cipriano with distributing cocaine on Aug. 5, 2014 and on Oct. 10-11, 2014, and Ventura and Cipriano with distributing cocaine on Sept. 8, 2014.
During his change of plea hearing, Ventura pled guilty to participating in a cocaine distribution conspiracy and to distributing cocaine on Sept. 8, 2014. In entering his guilty plea, Ventura admitted that the cocaine he distributed on Sept. 8, 2014, was subsequently distributed to a person who unbeknownst to him was an undercover agent.
At sentencing, Ventura faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison followed by not less than three years of supervised release. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Ventura will forfeit $7,600.00, which represents the profits he derived from the drug trafficking offenses charged in the indictment. Ventura remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.
Cipriano has entered a not guilty plea to the indictment, and is in custody pending trial which is currently scheduled for Jan. 2016. Charges in indictments are merely accusations and criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the DEA and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Luis A. Martinez of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.
Updated December 16, 2015