Two More Defendants Arrested During 2023 Joint Enforcement Operation in Carlsbad Plead Guilty to Federal Drug Offenses
ALBUQUERQUE – Marcos A. Martinez, 31, of Roswell, N.M., pled guilty yesterday afternoon in in Las Cruces, N.M., to federal methamphetamine trafficking and firearms charges filed as the result of a multi-agency investigation into a criminal organization that was trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine and firearms in southeastern New Mexico.
The investigation, which was initiated by the DEA, ATF and the HIDTA Region VI Pecos Valley Drug Task Force, in spring 2017, initially targeted a methamphetamine trafficking organization operating in southeastern New Mexico supplied by Martinez, and also allegedly supplied by Daniel P. Bruton, 39, of Artesia, N.M. The investigative team quickly expanded to include HSI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Border Patrol, the New Mexico State Police, the Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force, and the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, and the investigative targets expanded to include other alleged drug traffickers in Eddy and Chaves Counties. The investigation was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, a Department of Justice program 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. During the investigation, law enforcement authorities seized more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine and 44 firearms.
Martinez, Bruton and eight co-defendants were charged in a 34-count indictment filed on Oct. 3, 2017. The indictment alleged that Martinez, Bruton and their co-defendants conspired to violate the federal narcotics trafficking and firearms laws from May 2017 through Oct. 2017 in Eddy and Chaves Counties and elsewhere in New Mexico. The indictment includes 55 overt acts that discussed the conspiracy’s operations, including the quantities of methamphetamine, ranging from multiple ounces to five pounds, allegedly distributed by the defendants on a routine basis. It also describes the firearms, including assault rifles that allegedly were to be smuggled into Mexico, allegedly used by the defendants in relation to their drug trafficking activities.
During yesterday’s proceedings, Martinez pled guilty to all of the charges against him in the indictment, including a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy count, four counts of using a communication facility in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes, two counts of possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute, one count of distributing methamphetamine, and one count of smuggling goods from the United States.
In entering the guilty plea, Martinez admitted that on numerous occasions between May 2017 and Sept. 2017, he conspired with his co-conspirators to distribute more than 2,126.98 grams of methamphetamine in Eddy County and elsewhere. Martinez also admitted that in Oct. 2017, he conspired with another individual to provide firearms to be illegally smuggled from the United States to Mexico but the firearms were seized from him by the police at a traffic stop while he was traveling from Roswell to Albuquerque, N.M. Had the firearms not been seized, it was Martinez’s intention to take the firearms to California to be illegally exported to Mexico.
At sentencing, Martinez faces a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of ten years and a maximum of life in prison. Martinez has been in custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
Four of Martinez’s co-defendants have entered guilty pleas: Chelcy A. Vasquez, 26, of Dexter, N.M., pled guilty on Feb. 5, 2018; Erick L. Miranda-Santos, 22, of Artesia pled guilty on April 5, 2018; and Isela Hernandez, 26, of Roswell pled guilty on April 16, 2018. Their sentencing hearings have yet to be scheduled. Kenneth R. Dickerson, 56, of Carlsbad pled guilty on Feb. 20, 2018, and is currently scheduled for sentencing in June 2018.
The remaining five co-defendants have entered pleas of not guilty to the charges against them. Charges in indictments and criminal complaints are only accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
These cases were investigated by the DEA, ATF, HSI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Border Patrol, the New Mexico State Police, the HIDTA Region VI Pecos Valley Drug Task Force, the HIDTA Region VI Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force, and the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Clara N. Cobos and Renee L. Camacho of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office are prosecuting the cases filed as the result of the investigation.
The Pecos Valley Drug Task Force is comprised of officers from the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, Carlsbad Police Department and Artesia Police Department and is part of the HIDTA Region VI Drug Task Force. The HIDTA Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force is comprised of investigators from the Roswell Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI and the Chaves County Sherriff’s Office. The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. HIDTA is a program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) which 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 and seeks to reduce drug trafficking and production by facilitating coordinated law enforcement activities and information sharing.