Texas Man Sentenced to Ten Years for Federal Drug Trafficking and Firearms Conviction in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Nicolas Robert Muniz, 27, of Monahans, Tex., was sentenced today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to 120 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release for his conviction on drug trafficking and firearms charges.
Muniz was charged by criminal complaint on June 5, 2017, after law enforcement officers seized approximately 504 grams of methamphetamine, 50 grams of marijuana, and firearms and ammunition from Muniz’s vehicle during a routine traffic stop. According to the complaint, the officers deployed a drug detection canine on Muniz’s vehicle after observing that Muniz was acting in a suspicious and nervous manner. They searched the vehicle and found the drugs after the canine alerted to the presence of controlled substances in the vehicle.
Muniz and a co-defendant Michael Dwain Samples, 26, also from Monahans, were subsequently charged in a six-count indictment filed on Sept. 13, 2017. The indictment charged the two men with participating in a methamphetamine distribution conspiracy and possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The indictment also charged Muniz and Samples with being felons in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and possessing firearms in relation to drug trafficking crimes. According to the indictment, the defendants committed the offenses on May 16, 2017, in Lea County, N.M. Samples and Muniz were prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because they were convicted felons.
On Jan. 16, 2018, Muniz pled guilty to a four-count felony information charging him with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. In entering the guilty plea, Muniz admitted that on May 16, 2017, he agreed to drive Samples from Monahans to Carlsbad, N.M., to purchase approximately 469 grams of methamphetamine. Muniz admitted having a loaded firearm under his seat of the vehicle he was driving, and that he possessed the firearm and ammunition despite his status as a convicted felon and for protection and in furtherance of his drug trafficking activities.
On Oct. 31, 2017, Samples pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. In entering the guilty plea, Samples admitted that on May 16, 2017, he traveled from Monahans to Carlsbad, to purchase approximately 469 grams of methamphetamine with the intention of distributing the methamphetamine to others. Samples further admitted that on May 16, 2017, he possessed a firearm and ammunition despite his status as a convicted felon. Samples was sentenced on April 17, 2018, to ten years in prison followed by five years of supervised release.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the New Mexico State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brock E. Taylor and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joni L. Autrey of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office prosecuted the case.