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Press Release

Rio Rancho Woman Pleads Guilty to Federal Heroin Trafficking Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Frances Chavez, 32, of Rio Rancho, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to federal heroin trafficking charges.  Under the terms of her plea agreement, Chavez will be sentenced within the range of 15 to 27 months in prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.

Chavez was arrested on Dec. 29, 2015, on a seven-count indictment charging her with heroin trafficking offenses.  The indictment alleged that Chavez distributed heroin on five occasions in Oct. 2015, and possessed heroin with intent to distribute on Nov. 10, 2015.  The indictment alleged that Chavez committed these drug trafficking crimes in Sandoval County, N.M.  The indictment also charged Chavez with maintaining a place for the purpose of manufacturing and distributing heroin from Oct. 6, 2015 through Nov. 10, 2015, in Bernalillo County, N.M.

During today’s proceedings, Chavez pled guilty to the indictment and admitted that she sold heroin on five occasions in Oct. 2015, from her home in Rio Rancho.  Chavez further admitted that on Nov. 10, 2015, law enforcement agents discovered a distribution amount of heroin and drug paraphernalia while executing a federal search warrant at her residence.  Chavez admitted that that she used her Rio Rancho residence for the purpose of distributing heroin. 

Chavez remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the DEA.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joel R. Meyers, Shaheen P. Torgoley and Stephen R. Kotz are 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

Updated September 16, 2016

Drug Trafficking