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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mexican Citizen Pleads Guilty to Federal Heroin Trafficking Charge in New Mexico

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Tomas Bustamante-Machado, 51, a Mexican citizen illegally residing in Phoenix, Ariz., pleaded guilty this morning in Albuquerque, N.M., to federal trafficking charges.

Bustamante-Machado was arrested on Jan. 16, 2015, in Bernalillo County, N.M., after the New Mexico State Police found approximately 1286 grams (2.8 pounds) of heroin hidden in his vehicle following a routine traffic stop.  According to the criminal complaint, the heroin was found in an altered compartment in the back seat of Bustamante-Machado’s vehicle after he consented to a search of the vehicle.  Court documents indicate that Bustamante-Machado is a Mexican citizen who was out of prison on an immigration bond pending a deportation hearing at the time of his arrest in this case.  Bustamante-Machado subsequently was indicted on Feb. 10, 2015, and charged with possession of heroin with intent to distribute.

During today’s proceedings, Bustamante-Machado pled guilty to the indictment and admitted that on Jan. 16, 2015, while traveling from Phoenix, he was stopped by law enforcement and found to be in possession of more than one kilogram of heroin which was concealed in a secret compartment in the vehicle he was driving.  He further admitted that the heroin was intended for another person.

Bustamante-Machado has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.  At sentencing, Bustamante-Machado faces a mandatory minimum of ten years and a maximum of life in federal prison.  He will be deported after completing his prison sentence.

This case was investigated by the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (the BEST Team) of the Albuquerque office of HSI and the New Mexico State Police, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel R. Meyers and the Organized Crime Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

This case was prosecuted 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.

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Updated March 17, 2015