Member of Sunland Park Heroin Trafficking Ring Sentenced to Prison for Federal Narcotics Trafficking Conviction
Case Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative Which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Eleodoro Sanchez, 62, of Canutillo, Texas, was sentenced today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to 36 months in prison for his conviction on heroin trafficking charges resulting from a DEA-led investigation targeting a heroin trafficking ring operating out of Sunland Park, N.M. Sanchez will be on supervised release for three years after completing his prison sentence.
Sanchez was a member of a heroin trafficking organization operating out of Sunland Park, N.M., that was targeted by a DEA-led investigation, which was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program. The OCDETF program is a nationwide Department of Justice program that 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.
Ten members of the heroin trafficking ring were charged in July 2016, in a 30-count indictment with participation in a heroin trafficking conspiracy and a series of substantive heroin trafficking offenses. The indictment charged all ten defendants with conspiring to distribute heroin in Doña Ana County and elsewhere between May 8, 2016 and July 12, 2016. It also included 23 counts charging certain defendants with distributing heroin or possessing heroin with intent to distribute and six counts charging certain defendants with using communications devices (telephones) to facilitate heroin trafficking crimes.
According to the indictment, Sanchez routinely distributed heroin for Raymundo Muñoz, 69, of Sunland Park, the leader of the drug trafficking organization, which was smuggled by couriers into the United States across the international border in El Paso. Muñoz took the heroin to his Sunland Park residence where he distributed the drugs to Sanchez and others. Members of the conspiracy used telephones to negotiate their heroin deals, arrange for heroin deliveries, and pay for the heroin.
On March 7, 2017, Sanchez entered a guilty plea to the conspiracy charge and to three counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute. In entering the guilty plea, Sanchez admitted that from April 2016 through July 2016, he participated in a heroin trafficking conspiracy by obtaining heroin from Munoz and reselling the heroin to others. Specifically, Sanchez admitted that on at least six dates in April and May 2016, he purchased and distributed more than 57 grams of heroin to other individuals on behalf of Munoz.
The following defendants previously entered guilty pleas in the case:
- Raymundo Munoz pled guilty on March 1, 2017, and was sentenced on Aug. 15, 2017, to 72 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release;
- Juan Francisco Rivera, 61, of El Paso, Texas, pled guilty on Feb. 7, 2017, and was sentenced on Oct. 18, 2017, to 108 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release;
- Salvador Delgadillo, 39, of La Mesa, N.M., pled guilty on Aug. 31, 2017, and is pending sentencing;
- Carlos Diaz, 37, of El Paso, Texas, pled guilty on Jan. 24, 2017, and was sentenced on June 29, 2017, to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release;
- Sandra Francis Guzman, 53, of El Paso, Texas, pled guilty on March 21, 2017, and was sentenced on July 25, 2017, to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release;
- Blanca Elisa Tovar, 43, of Phoenix, Ariz., pled guilty on Dec. 13, 2016, and was sentenced on Aug. 23, 2017, to 24 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release;
- Alberto Lozano-Morales, 43, of Sunland Park, pled guilty on Dec. 6, 2016, and was sentenced on May 24, 2017 to time served followed by one year of supervised release; and
- Armando Daniel Marquez, 54 of Sunland Park, N.M., pled guilty on Feb. 23, 2017, and was sentenced on Sept. 19, 2017, to time served followed by three years of supervised release.
The remaining codefendant has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive. Charges in indictments and criminal complaints are only accusations. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Las Cruces office of the DEA and Sunland Police Department investigated these cases with assistance from the El Paso office of the FBI, the U.S. Border Patrol, and the Gang Unit of the El Paso Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dustin C. Segovia and Renee L. Camacho of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office are prosecuting these cases 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.