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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mexican National 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 – Rosa Esmeralda Balderrama-Mendivil, 39, a Mexican national residing in Nogales, Ariz., pled guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to a heroin trafficking charge.

Balderrama-Mendivil and her co-defendant Jesus Francisco Javier Morales-Rivas, 30, of Sinaloa, Mexico, were arrested on March 31, 2015, at the Greyhound Bus Station in Albuquerque after DEA agents found approximately 2.75 pounds of heroin in Balderrama-Mendivil’s baggage during a consensual search.  On April 14, 2015, Balderrama-Mendivil and Morales-Rivas were charged in a two-count indictment with participating in a heroin trafficking conspiracy and possession of heroin with intent to distribute.  The indictment alleged that both offenses were committed on March 31, 2015, in Bernalillo County, N.M.

During today’s proceedings, Balderrama-Mendivil pled guilty to a felony information charging her with conspiracy to possess heroin with intent to distribute.  In entering the guilty plea, Balderrama-Mendivil admitted that she was in possession of heroin on March 31, 2015, and that she intended to deliver the heroin to another person upon her arrival in Albuquerque.

 At sentencing, Balderrama-Mendivil faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.  She will be deported after completing her prison sentence.  Balderrama-Mendivil remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

Morales-Rivas has entered a not guilty plea to the complaint and indictment and remains in custody pending trial which has yet to be scheduled.  Charges in criminal complaints and indictments are merely accusations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was investigated by the Interdiction Unit of the DEA’s Albuquerque office which focuses on disrupting the flow of narcotics, weapons, and the proceeds of illegal activities as they are smuggled into or through New Mexico in passenger buses, passenger trains, commercial vehicles and automobiles.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Mysliwiec is prosecuting the case.

This case is being 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 July 23, 2015