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Justice News

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Las Cruces Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Heroin Trafficking and Firearms Conviction

Defendant Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE — Jessie Manuel Pena, 32, of Las Cruces, N.M., was sentenced this morning in federal court in Las Cruces to 77 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his conviction on heroin trafficking and firearms charges.

Pena was arrested on April 22, 2015, on a criminal complaint charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of heroin.  According to the complaint, on July 19, 2013, in Doña Ana County, N.M., law enforcement officers located and arrested Pena on a state warrant for a probation violation and failure to appear.  During a search incident to Pena’s arrest, the officers seized a loaded handgun from the waistband of Pena’s pants and approximately 11.4 grams of heroin from a pocket in Pena’s pants.

Pena was subsequently indicted on July 16, 2014, and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, possession of a firearm and ammunition by a user and addict of a controlled substance, and simple possession of heroin.  Pena was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of distribution of marijuana, tampering with evidence, possession of a firearm or destructive device by a felon, possession of a controlled substance, residential burglary and larceny.

On Sept. 3, 2014, Pena pled guilty to the indictment without the benefit of a plea agreement.

This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Las Cruces Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Y. Armijo prosecuted this case pursuant to the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative.

The HOPE Initiative is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center that is partnering with the Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative with the overriding goal of reducing the number of opioid-related deaths in the District of New Mexico.  The HOPE Initiative comprised of five components:  (1) prevention and education; (2) treatment; (3) law enforcement; (4) reentry; and (5) strategic planning.  The law enforcement component of the HOPE Initiative 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 trafficking organizations for investigation and prosecution is a priority of the HOPE Initiative.

Updated September 22, 2015