You are here

Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 23, 2016

Pharmacy Technician from Carlsbad Facing Federal Charge for Stealing Prescription Opioid Painkillers

Defendant Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – The DEA has arrested a pharmacy technician on a federal theft of medical products charge arising out of the theft of more than 20,000 prescription opioid tablets from the pharmacy that previously employed the technician, announced U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez and Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy of DEA’s El Paso Division.

Amber Otero, 30, of Carlsbad, N.M., was arrested this morning on a criminal complaint charging her with theft of medical products.  According to the criminal complaint, the DEA initiated the investigation leading to Otero’s arrest in Aug. 2016, after receiving a report of theft of loss of controlled substances from a pharmacy in Carlsbad.  The pharmacy’s report alleged that 20,344 oxycodone tablets of various strengths had been stolen from the pharmacy.  Otero, who had been employed as a pharmacy technician by the pharmacy, was identified as the suspected thief.

Otero is scheduled for an initial appearance in federal court in Roswell, N.M., on Sept. 27, 2016. 

If convicted on the charge in the criminal complaint, Otero faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.  Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations, and criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Tactical Diversion Squad of the DEA in El Paso, Texas investigated this case.  DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squads combine DEA resources with those of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in an innovative effort to investigate, disrupt and dismantle those suspected of violating the Controlled Substances Act or other appropriate federal, state or local statutes pertaining to the diversion of licit pharmaceutical controlled substances or listed chemicals.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Beck is prosecuting the case pursuant to 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.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Prescription Drugs
Component(s): 
Updated September 23, 2016