ALBUQUERQUE – This morning a U.S. Magistrate Judge sitting in Albuquerque, N.M., found probable cause to support a criminal complaint charging Ashely Yarell Cruz-Castro, 21, and Stephanie Esther Caminero, 21, both of Patterson, N.J., with heroin trafficking offenses. Cruz-Castro and Caminero were released pending trial under pretrial supervision and other conditions of release.
DEA Special Agents arrested Cruz-Castro and Caminero on April 29, 2017, after they allegedly seized a total of 6.6 kilograms (14.52 pounds) of heroin from the two women during an interdiction investigation at the Greyhound Bus Station in Albuquerque. According to the criminal complaint in which the two women are charged, Cruz-Castro and Caminero each allegedly possessed approximately 3.3 kilograms of heroin in their respective duffle bags.
If convicted, Cruz-Castro and Caminero each face a statutory mandatory minimum of ten years and a maximum of life in prison. Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
The case against Cruz-Castro and Caminero was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the DEA and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney George Kraehe 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 the DEA, the Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative, 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.