Santa Fe Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Crack Cocaine and Firearms Charges
ALBUQUERQUE – Robert Romero, 26, of Santa Fe, N.M., pleaded guilty today to federal narcotics trafficking and firearms charges. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Romero will be sentenced to ten years in federal prison followed by four years of supervised release.
Romero was one of five men who were indicted in April 2013, on federal narcotics and firearms charges as the result of “Operation Rio Grande Stucco,” a DEA led investigation into an organization that allegedly manufactured and distributed cocaine base, more commonly known as “crack” or “crack cocaine,” in Santa Fe and Bernalillo Counties, N.M.
The five-count indictment charged Romero and his co-defendants, Gabriel Mirabal, 32, Dominic Anaya, 33, and Sam Elyicio, 37, of Albuquerque, and Michael Jaramillo, 24, of Santa Fe, with conspiring to distribute cocaine base in Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties between May 2012 and April 2013. Jaramillo also was charged with distributing crack cocaine in Santa Fe in March 2012 and Romero was charged with possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute in Santa Fe in July 2012. Romero also was charged with using and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Mirabal also was charged with possessing cocaine with intent to distribute in Albuquerque in Feb. 2013. Mirabal, Jaramillo and Elyicio were arrested in April 2013, while Romero and Anaya were transferred from state custody to federal custody in July 2013.
Today Romero pled guilty to Counts 1, 3 and 4 of the indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, respectively. According to the plea agreement, Romero conspired with his co-defendants to distribute more than 280 grams of crack cocaine. On July 2012, Romero was stopped by law enforcement officers who found 11.1 grams of crack cocaine in Romero’s vehicle, which was packaged for resale, and a handgun Romero used for protection while distributing drugs. Romero remains in federal custody pending his sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.
Co-defendant Jaramillo entered a guilty plea on March 21, 2014, to Count 1 of the indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. According to his plea agreement, Jaramillo purchased crack cocaine from co-defendants Mirabal and Anaya and then resold it others. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Jaramillo will be sentenced to 78 months in federal prison followed by four years of supervised release. He remains in custody pending his sentencing hearing.
Mirabal, Anaya and Elyicio have entered not guilty pleas to the indictment. If convicted of the drug trafficking charges against them, each faces a maximum penalty of not less than five years or more than 40 years in prison. They remain in custody pending trial. An indictment is merely an accusation, and criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the DEA and the HIDTA Region III Drug Task Force, with assistance from the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office for the State of New Mexico, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei.
The Region III Drug Task Force is comprised of officers from the New Mexico State Police, Santa Fe Police Department and the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office and receives support from the HIDTA – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area – program. HIDTA is a program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy that provides assistance to Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States.
The investigation leading to the indictment, has been designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) program, a nationwide Department of Justice initiative that combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations.