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Justice News

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Mexican National Sentenced to Prison for Federal Drug Trafficking and Illegal Reentry Conviction

ALBUQUERQUE – David Torres-Arrellanes, 29, a Mexican national illegally residing in the United States, was sentenced today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to 30 months in prison for his conviction for using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime and an illegal reentry charge.  Torres-Arrellanes will be deported after he completes his prison sentence

Torres-Arrellanes and seven other residents of Lea County, N.M., including four Mexican nationals, and a resident of Yuma, Ariz., were charged in a 20-count indictment filed in July 2017, with federal drug trafficking and money laundering offenses.  The indictment was the result of a multi-agency investigation into a significant drug trafficking organization allegedly led by Jose Raul Mendivil-Berrelleza, 34, a Mexican national who resided in Hobbs, that allegedly imported methamphetamine and cocaine into Lea County from Mexico through Arizona. 

The  investigation, which was led by the DEA and included HSI and the Lea County Drug Task Force of HIDTA Region 6, was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, a 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.  During the course of the investigation, law enforcement authorities seized approximately 13 kilograms (28.6 pounds) of pure methamphetamine and 1.45 kilograms (3.2 pounds) of cocaine, a firearm and $19,000 in cash.

The 20-count indictment charged alleged ringleader Mendivil-Berrelleza and seven co-defendants with conspiracy, methamphetamine and cocaine trafficking, and money laundering offenses.  Count 1 of the indictment charged all eight defendants with participating in a conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine and cocaine in Lea County and elsewhere between Nov. 2016 and July 2017.  Count 2 charged Mendivil-Berrelleza and Roberto Rendon-Duran, 70, of Yuma, Ariz., with participating in an international money-laundering conspiracy.  Counts 3 through 5 charged certain defendants with methamphetamine trafficking offenses and Count 6 charges certain defendants with a cocaine trafficking offense.  Counts 7 through 20 charged certain defendants including Torres-Arrellanes, with using communications devices to facilitate their drug trafficking activity.

On Oct. 25, 2017, Torres-Arrellanes pled guilty to an information charging him with reentry of a removed alien and using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime.  In entering the guilty plea, Torres-Arrellanes admitted that on May 24, 2017, he had a telephone call with an individual who distributed methamphetamine, and told the individual that $10,000 in drug proceeds was ready to be picked up by a drug courier.  Torres-Arrellanes further admitted that on May 22, 2014, he was deported from the United States, and did not have permission to reenter when he was arrested by federal law enforcement agents on Aug. 2, 2017, in Ariz.

Four of Torrez-Arrellanes’ co-defendants previously have entered guilty pleas.   Jeremy W. Gough, 41, of Hobbs, pled guilty on Dec. 13, 2017, and was sentenced on Feb. 20, 2018, to 120 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.  Carlos Espinoza-Perez, 28, a Mexican national, pled guilty on Jan. 22, 2018; Reco Curry, 38, of Hobbs pled guilty on Nov. 27, 2017; and Rendon-Duran pled guilty on Oct. 31, 2017.

Two co-defendants have entered pleas of not guilty and are pending trial.  Miguel Angel Luna-Arredondo has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.  Charges in indictments and criminal complaints are only accusations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was investigated by the DEA and HSI offices in Las Cruces and the Lea County Drug Task Force with assistance from the Lea County Sheriff’s Office and the Hobbs Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Terri J. Abernathy and Dustin Segovia of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office are prosecuting the case.

The Lea County Drug Task Force is comprised of officers from the Lea County Sheriff’s Office, Hobbs Police Department, Lovington Police Department, Eunice Police Department the Tatum Police Department and the Jal Police Department, and is part of the NM HIDTA Region VI Drug Task Force.  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.

Drug Trafficking
Updated March 13, 2018