ALBUQUERQUE – Jimmy Alex Barela, Jr., 38, of Las Cruces, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court to methamphetamine and heroin trafficking charges. The guilty plea was entered without the benefit of a plea agreement.
Barela was arrested on Sept. 30, 2016, on a criminal complaint charging him with possession of methamphetamine and heroin with intent to distribute on March 2, 2016, in Dona Ana County, N.M. According to the complaint, law enforcement agents found a total of 425.5 grams of methamphetamine and 95.6 grams of heroin when they conducted a traffic stop on Barela’s vehicle and executed a search warrant at his residence.
During today’s proceedings, Barela pled guilty to a felony information charging him with possession of methamphetamine and heroin with intent to distribute. At sentencing, Barela faces a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of ten years and a maximum of life in prison. He remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the DEA and the HIDTA Regional Interagency Drug Task Force/Metro Narcotics Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark A. Saltman of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting the case.
The HIDTA Regional Interagency Drug Task Force/Metro Narcotics Task Force is comprised of officers from the Las Cruces Police Department, the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, HSI and the New Mexico State Police. The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. HIDTA is a program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) which provides assistance to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States and seeks to reduce drug trafficking and production by facilitating coordinated law enforcement activities and information sharing.
The case is being prosecuted 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. HOPE’s law enforcement component is led by the Organized Crime Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the DEA in conjunction with their federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners. 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.