Otero County Prison Inmates Sentenced to Federal Prison for Scheme to Smuggle Drugs into Otero County Prison
Case Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Two inmates who were housed at the Otero County Prison Facility (OCPF) in Chaparral, N.M., were sentenced today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., for their participation in a conspiracy to smuggle methamphetamine and heroin into the OCPF. Armando Lopez, 29, of Anthony, Texas, was sentenced to 84 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, and Eric Lovato, 32, of Alamogordo, N.M., was sentenced to 70 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
Lopez and Lovato were two of six individuals charged in April 2014, in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to violate the federal narcotics laws by smuggling controlled substances into the OCPF. The other defendants charged with participating in the conspiracy were Luis Delgadillo, 39, of El Paso, Texas, who was a corrections officer at OCPF during the conspiracy, Ana Lopez, 26, of Albuquerque, N.M., Nancy Salas, 37, of Alamogordo, N.M., and Gary Borja, 28, of Albuquerque. All six defendants subsequently were indicted on Aug. 20, 2014, and charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin from Dec. 2013 through April 26, 2014, in Otero County, N.M.
The FBI initiated an investigation into the case in Jan. 2014, after receiving information from the New Mexico Corrections Department showing that Delgadillo was smuggling heroin and methamphetamine into the OCPF. The investigation, which included a review of recorded inmate telephone calls and OCPF surveillance video, physical surveillance and the results of inmate drug testing, identified the six defendants as members of a conspiracy who smuggled narcotics into the OCPF between Jan. 2014 and April 2014.
Lovato pled guilty to the indictment in Oct. 2015, and Armando Lopez entered a similar guilty plea in Nov. 2015. Lovato admitted recruiting Salas to smuggle drugs into the prison and deliver the drugs to Delgadillo, and Lopez admitted recruiting Ana Lopez to do the same thing. On April 26, 2014, at Lopez’s direction, Ana Lopez met with Delgadillo and gave him 25 grams of methamphetamine, 11 grams of heroin and ten Suboxone pills for Delgadillo to smuggle into OCPF.
The four co-defendants have entered guilty pleas to the indictment. On Jan. 12, 2016, Delgadillo was sentenced to 40 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. On June 24, 2015, Ana Lopez was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison followed by two years of supervised release. Borja and Salas have yet to be sentenced.
This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the FBI and the New Mexico Corrections Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark A. Saltman of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.
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.