Portales Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Narcotics Trafficking and Firearms Charges
ALBUQUERQUE – Justin Thomas Shipley, 30, of Portales, N.M., entered a guilty plea today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to methamphetamine trafficking and firearms charges. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Shipley will be sentenced to eight years in prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.
Shipley and co-defendant Brandon William Wood, 35, also of Portales, N.M., were arrested on April 24, 2014, in Otero County, N.M., on a criminal complaint charging them with methamphetamine trafficking charges. They subsequently were indicted on methamphetamine trafficking and firearms charges in a six-count indictment filed in July 2014.
Count 1 of the indictment alleged that in April 2014, Shipley and Wood participated in a conspired to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine, and Count 2 charged the two men with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Count 3 charged Shipley with using and carrying firearms in relation to drug trafficking crimes, and Count 5 charged Shipley with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. Count 4 charged Wood with using and carrying firearms in relation to drug trafficking crimes, and Count 6 charged Wood with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.
In July 2014, Shipley was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of a felony offense, forgery, in 2011. Wood also was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition in July 2014 because he had been convicted of several felony offenses, including conspiracy to sell controlled substances, manufacturing, sale and possession of controlled substances, conspiracy to cultivate marijuana, and driving while intoxicated.
Today Shipley pled guilty to a three-count felony information charging him with participation in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy; distribution of methamphetamine; and using and carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime. In entering his guilty plea, Shipley admitted that beginning on April 18, 2014, he conspired with a co-conspirator to sell 80 grams of methamphetamine which was to be distributed in Portales. Shipley admitted that they obtained the methamphetamine in Arizona on April 22, 2014. Shipley and his co-conspirator were transporting the drugs from Arizona to Portales on April 24, 2014, when they were arrested at the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint near Alamogordo, N.M., after Border Patrol agents found 80 grams of methamphetamine, a shotgun and a handgun in Shipley’s vehicle during a routine vehicle inspection.
Shipley has been in federal custody since his arrest. He remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
Wood has entered a not guilty plea to the indictment. Wood remains in custody pending his trial which is set for Jan. 19, 2015. Charges in indictments are merely accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the DEA and the Alamogordo Station of the U.S. Border Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Wright of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting the case.