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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 8, 2016

Las Cruces Men Plead Guilty to Federal Narcotics Trafficking Charges

ALBUQUERQUE – Two Las Cruces, N.M., men pleaded guilty today in federal court to narcotics trafficking charges under plea agreements with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Luis Cipriano, 42, pled guilty to cocaine and methamphetamine trafficking charges filed in two separate cases, and his son, Christian Cipriano, 22, pled guilty to methamphetamine trafficking charges in one of the cases.

Luis Cipriano, Christian Cipriano and Luis Manuel Enriquez-Ramirez, 36, also of Las Cruces, were charged in a two-count indictment, 15-CR-1798, on May 20, 2015, with participating in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy and distribution of methamphetamine. According to the indictment, the three men conspired to distribute methamphetamine on Aug. 19, 2014, in Doña Ana County, N.M.    

In a separate case, Luis Cipriano and co-defendant George Ventura, 46, also of Las Cruces, were charged in a four-count indictment, 15-CR-1799, on May 20, 2015, with participating in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy and distribution of cocaine.  According to this indictment, Ventura and Luis Cipriano conspired to distribute cocaine from Aug. 5, 2014 through Nov. 13, 2014 in Doña Ana County.  The indictment also charged Luis Cipriano with distributing cocaine on Aug. 5, 2014 and on Oct. 10-11, 2014, and Ventura and Luis Cipriano with distributing cocaine on Sept. 8, 2014.

During today’s change of plea hearing, Luis Cipriano pled guilty to charges in both of the indictments against him.  With respect to Indictment 15-CR-1798, Luis Cipriano admitted that on Aug. 19, 2014, he and co-defendant Enriquez-Ramirez negotiated to sell methamphetamine to a person who unbeknownst to Luis Cipriano was working with law enforcement.  With respect to Indictment 15-CR-1799, Luis Cipriano admitted that on numerous occasions from Aug. 5, 2014 through Nov. 13, 2014, he conspired with Ventura to distribute cocaine to an undercover agent.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Luis Cipriano will be sentenced to 12 years in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.  Luis Cipriano remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

Christian Cipriano also pled guilty to charges in Indictment 15-CR-1798 today.  He admitted that on Aug. 19, 2014, he drove Luis Cipriano to meet with Enriquez-Ramirez to complete a pre-arranged transaction to sell cocaine to a person who unbeknownst to the three co-conspirators was working with law enforcement.  At sentencing, Christian Cipriano faces a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in federal prison followed by not less than four years of supervised release.  Christian Cipriano remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled

Ventura pled guilty to charges in Indictment 15-CR-1799 on Dec. 15, 2015, and admitted participating in a cocaine distribution conspiracy and to distributing cocaine on Sept. 8, 2014.  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.

Enriquez-Ramirez has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.  Charges in indictments are merely accusations and criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

These cases were investigated by the Las Cruces office of the DEA and are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Luis A. Martinez of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.

Updated January 8, 2016