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Press Release

Lincoln County Man Sentenced to Prison for Federal Methamphetamine Trafficking Conviction

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
Defendant is One of 34 Individuals Charged as Part of Investigation into Methamphetamine Trafficking on the Mescalero Apache Reservation

ALBUQUERQUE – Octavio Herrera, 54, of Ruidoso Downs, N.M., was sentenced today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to 60 months in prison for his conviction on a methamphetamine trafficking charge. Herrera will be on supervised release for four years following his prison sentence

 

Herrera was one of 34 individuals charged in December 2015, with federal and tribal drug offenses as the result of an 18-month multi-agency investigation led by the DEA and BIA into methamphetamine trafficking on the Mescalero Apache Reservation. Eighteen defendants, including five members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe and 13 non-Natives were charged in six federal indictments and a federal criminal complaint. Sixteen other members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe were charged in tribal criminal complaints approved by the Mescalero Apache Tribal Court.

 

The investigation leading to the federal and tribal charges was initiated in May 2014, in response to an increase in violent crime on the Mescalero Apache Reservation perpetrated by methamphetamine users. The investigation initially targeted a drug trafficking organization that was allegedly distributing methamphetamine within the Reservation, and later expanded to include two other drug trafficking organizations in southeastern New Mexico that allegedly served as sources of supply for the methamphetamine distributed within the Reservation. In Aug. 2014, the investigation was designated as part of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, which combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations. The investigation is one of the first OCDETF investigations to utilize electronic surveillance (wiretaps) in Indian Country. More than ten kilograms of methamphetamine were seized during the course of the investigation.

 

Herrera was arrested in Sept. 2016, on an indictment charging him and co-defendants Rumaldo Varela Enriquez, 46, a Mexican national, and Johnny Flowers, 51, of Hobbs, N.M., with methamphetamine trafficking offenses. The indictment charged Herrera with participation in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and three counts of use of a communication facility in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

 

On Jan. 11, 2017, Herrera pled guilty to conspiracy and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. In entering the guilty plea, Herrera admitted that between March 4, 2015 and March 12, 2015, he conspired with others to distribute methamphetamine in Hobbs and Lovington, N.M. Herrera also admitted that on March 12, 2015, he possessed 230.1 grams of methamphetamine which he intended to distribute to others.

 

Enriquez pled guilty on Sept. 9, 2016, and was sentenced on March 21, 2017 to 57 months in prison and will be deported following his prison sentence. Flowers pled guilty on Nov. 9, 2016, and was sentenced yesterday to time served followed by two years of supervised release.

 

The federal and tribal cases were investigated by the Las Cruces office of the DEA, District IV of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services (Mescalero Agency), BIA’s Division of Drug Enforcement, Mescalero Tribal Police Department, Hatch Police Department, FBI and Lea County Drug Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Terri J. Abernathy of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting the federal cases, and Mescalero Tribal Prosecutor Melissa Chavez is prosecuting the tribal cases.

Updated May 24, 2017

Topics
Drug Trafficking
Indian Country Law and Justice