Member of Las Cruces-Based Prescription Drug Trafficking Ring Sentenced to Federal Prison
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Kyle Mendenhall, 21, of Las Cruces, N.M., was sentenced today in Las Cruces federal court to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his prescription drug trafficking conviction.
Michael Garret Schavier, 31, Juan Rubalcava, 41, Michael Frye, 26, Shane Smolik, 27, Carlos Teran, 31, and Kristopher Hollingshead, 25, all of Las Cruces, N.M., were charged in a 14-count indictment that was filed by a federal grand jury in Las Cruces on Dec. 13, 2012. The indictment alleged that between Dec. 2011 and May 2012, the defendants conspired illegally to distribute Oxycodone and Adderall Doña Ana County, N.M. The indictment also charged members of the conspiracy with possession of Oxycodone and Adderall with intent to distribute.
According to the indictment, the defendants used fraudulent prescriptions to obtain Oxycodone, a painkiller, and Adderall, a stimulant, from pharmacies in Las Cruces and Alamogordo, N.M. The indictment alleged that, during a six-month period, the defendants fraudulently obtained an aggregate of 2,691 pills of Oxycodone (30 mg), 120 pills of Oxycodone (15 mg), and 390 pills of Adderall (30 mg), with the intention of unlawfully distributing the pills.
Mendenhall pled guilty on Dec. 27, 2013, to one count of conspiracy, one count of distributing Oxycodone and three counts of distributing Oxycodone and Adderall. He admitted that between May 3 and May 17, 2012, he obtained a total of 1,131 tablets of Oxycodone and 210 tablets of Adderall by passing fraudulent prescriptions at various pharmacies, often with the assistance of his codefendants Schavier and Rubalcava.
All eight defendants have entered guilty pleas:
- Rubalcava pled guilty on April 18, 2013, and was sentenced on Feb. 11, 2014, to 120 months in prison.
- Frye pled guilty on Jan. 22, 2014, and was sentenced on Aug. 25, 2014, to 12 months in prison.
- Smolik pled guilty on April 11, 2013, and was sentenced on Oct. 9, 2013, to 15 months in prison.
- Hollingshead pled guilty on April 18, 2013, and was sentenced on Sept. 23, 2013, to eight months in prison.
- Schavier pled guilty on Feb. 11, 2014, and Teran pled guilty on Feb. 3, 2014. Both are awaiting sentencing hearings, which have yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Tactical Diversion Squad of the El Paso Division of the DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Border Patrol, the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office and the Alamogordo Department of Public Safety. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Gould of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting the case.
DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squads combine DEA resources with those of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in an innovative effort to investigate, disrupt and dismantle those suspected of violating the Controlled Substances Act or other appropriate federal, state or local statutes pertaining to the diversion of licit pharmaceutical controlled substances or listed chemicals.
This case is being prosecuted pursuant to the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative. The HOPE Initiative is a collaboration 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.