Mexican National Pleads Guilty to Federal Heroin Trafficking Charge
Case Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Diego Mauricio Curiel-Cervantes, 22, a Mexican national, entered a guilty plea today to a heroin trafficking charge in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M.
Curiel-Cervantes was arrested on April 8, 2016, after DEA agents found 1.30 gross kilograms (2.6 pounds) of heroin and 3.45 gross kilograms (7.59 pounds) of cocaine concealed in his luggage at the Greyhound Bus Station in Albuquerque. Curiel-Cervantes subsequently was indicted and charged with possession of heroin and cocaine with intent to distribute.
During today’s change of plea hearing, Curiel-Cervantes entered a guilty plea to a felony information charging him with possession of heroin with intent to distribute. In his plea agreement, Curiel-Cervantes admitted that he unlawfully possessed heroin in Bernalillo County, N.M., on April 8, 2016. Law enforcement officers found the heroin, which was concealed in Curiel-Cervantes’ suitcase in a luggage compartment of a Greyhound Bus, during a consensual search.
Curiel-Cervantes has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, he faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He will be deported after completing his prison sentence.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the DEA and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. Spiers 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 DEA, Bernalillo County, 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.