Mexican National Sentenced to Twelve Years for Methamphetamine Trafficking Conviction
Defendant Conspired with Others to Distribute Methamphetamine in Lea County
ALBUQUERQUE – Joel Dominguez-Morales, 41, a Mexican national, was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to 145 months in prison for his methamphetamine trafficking conviction. Dominguez-Morales will be deported after he completes his prison sentence.
Dominguez-Morales, a permanent resident from Mexico, was arrested on May 6, 2015, on a criminal complaint charging him with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and participation in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Lea County, N.M., in May 2015. Dominguez-Morales, along with four co-defendants, Javier Amador-Flores, 49, Maria Marcelina Cardoza-Burciaga, 40, Jose Manuel Trujillo, 41and Myrna Orozco, 32, a U.S. citizen were later indicted on a charge of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Lea County in May 2015.
Dominguez-Morales pled guilty to the indictment and admitted to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine on Sept. 4, 2015.
Cardoza-Burciaga and Orozco previously pled guilty to participating in the methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy charged. Amador-Flores elected to proceed to trial and was found guilty July 20, 2016. The evidence at trial established that Amador-Flores participated in the methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy by receiving and storing shipments of methamphetamine at the residence he shared with Orozco. Other members of the conspiracy distributed the methamphetamine in Lea County.
According to court documents, on May 1, 2015, an undercover agent arranged to purchase methamphetamine from Trujillo. On May 6, 2015, Trujillo informed the undercover agent that Dominguez-Morales would be delivering the methamphetamine to the agent. Thereafter, Dominguez-Morales met with the undercover agent at a restaurant in Hobbs and directed the agent to meet him at an abandoned bar in a rural area outside of Hobbs, where a woman would deliver the methamphetamine. Later that day, law enforcement officers arrested Dominguez-Morales and Cardoza-Burciaga near the abandoned bar and seized almost four kilograms of methamphetamine.
Cardoza-Burciaga was sentenced on Aug. 17, 2016. At sentencing Orozco faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and Amador-Flores faces a statutory mandatory minimum of ten years and a maximum of life in prison. Amador-Flores will be deported after completing his prison sentence.
Trujillo has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive. The charges against Trujillo are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Lea County Drug Task Force, with assistance from the Yoakum County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brock Taylor and Matthew Beck 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.