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Justice News

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

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Texas Man and Mexican National Plead Guilty in New Mexico to Federal Heroin Trafficking Charges in New Mexico

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Arturo Martinez, 23, of El Paso, Texas, and Bryan Marinelarena, 20, a Mexican national, each pleaded guilty this morning in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to a federal heroin trafficking charge.

Martinez and Marinelarena were arrested on May 23, 2015, during a routine inspection at the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 10 in Doña Ana County, N.M.  According to the criminal complaint, agents found approximately 6.6 kilograms of heroin concealed within the vehicle that Martinez and Marinelarena were driving from El Paso to California.

During today’s proceedings, Martinez and Marinelarena each pled guilty to a felony information charging them with conspiracy to possess heroin with intent to distribute.  Each admitted that on May 23, 2015, in Doña Ana County, Border Patrol agents discovered approximately 6.6 kilograms of heroin hidden in the engine of the SUV in which they were traveling.  The two men further admitted that they were paid to transport the heroin from El Paso to California.

Under the terms of their respective plea agreements, Martinez and Marinelarena each will be sentenced to 87 months in prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.  Both remain in custody pending sentencing hearings which have yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Border Patrol and the Las Cruces office of the DEA and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark A. Saltman of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.

This case was prosecuted pursuant to the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative.  The HOPE Initiative is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center that is partnering with the Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative with the overriding goal of reducing the number of opioid-related deaths in the District of New Mexico.  The HOPE Initiative comprised of five components:  (1) prevention and education; (2) treatment; (3) law enforcement; (4) reentry; and (5) strategic planning.  The law enforcement component of the HOPE Initiative 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 trafficking organizations for investigation and prosecution is a priority of the HOPE Initiative.

Updated August 4, 2015