Mexican National Sentenced to Five Years for Federal Narcotics Trafficking Charges
Defendant is One of Twenty-Nine Charged in February 2014 with Trafficking Methamphetamine in San Juan County
ALBUQUERQUE – Ernesto Felix, 52, of Sinaloa, Mexico, was sentenced today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to 60 months in federal prison for his methamphetamine trafficking conviction. He will be deported following his prison sentence.
Felix is one of 29 individuals charged in Feb. 2014, with drug trafficking offenses as the result of a multi-agency investigation targeting drug trafficking in northwestern New Mexico. The investigation culminated on Feb. 26, 2014, when 26 of the defendants were arrested during a law enforcement operation led by Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) and the HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force. Two other defendants were arrested during the course of the investigation and the final defendant was arrested on March 3, 2014.
The 29 defendants were charged as a result of Operation “Brown Ice,” a year-long investigation that initially targeted a methamphetamine trafficking organization led by Isaac Anaya that distributed quantities of methamphetamine throughout San Juan County and expanded to include other drug trafficking activity in the area. The investigation was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, 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.
Thirteen of the defendants, including ringleader Isaac Anaya, 31, of Farmington, were charged in a 15-count federal indictment alleging a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in San Juan County from May 2013 through Sept. 2013. The remaining 16 defendants were charged with state drug trafficking and firearms offenses based on criminal complaints. During the course of the investigation, officers seized approximately five pounds of methamphetamine and five firearms. The law enforcement operation on Feb. 24, 2014, included the execution of eleven federal search warrants at two Bloomfield residences, four Farmington residences, two residences in San Juan County, two Bloomfield businesses, two Farmington businesses and a storage unit in Bloomfield. It also included the execution of three state search warrants at two residences in San Juan County and one Farmington residence. Officers seized numerous firearms, including a fully automatic Glock 19, a short-barreled rifle and a carbine with an obliterated serial number, four blasting caps, four small binary explosives and approximately 31.7 grams of methamphetamine during the execution of the search warrants and the law enforcement operation.
On Jan. 12, 2015, Felix pled guilty to Count 4 of the indictment and admitted that on July 31, 2013, in San Juan County, N.M., he and co-defendant Wesley Contreras, 20, of Farmington, N.M., were transporting approximately 891 grams of methamphetamine from Arizona to New Mexico when they were apprehended by law enforcement. Felix admitted that he and Contreras were paid to transport the drugs.
Contreras has entered a not guilty plea to the indictment. Charges in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The federal and state cases filed as a result of Operation “Brown Ice” were investigated by the HSI office in Albuquerque, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force, Bloomfield Police Department, Farmington Police Department and Aztec Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Reeve L. Swainston and Shana B. Long are prosecuting the federal case, and Assistant District Attorney David Cowen of the 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the state cases.
The HIDTA Region II Task Force is comprised of officers and investigators from the Farmington Police Department, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, Bloomfield Police Department and Aztec Police Department, and is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. HIDTA is a program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) which provides assistance to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States and seeks to reduce drug trafficking and production by facilitating coordinated law enforcement activities and information sharing.