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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Texas Man Sentenced to Ten Years for Federal Drug Trafficking and Firearms Conviction in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Michael Dwain Samples, 26, of Monahans, Tex., was sentenced this morning in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to 120 months in prison for his conviction on drug trafficking and firearms charges.  Samples will be on supervised release for five years after completing his prison sentence.

The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson, Acting Special Agent in Charge Jack P. Staton of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in El Paso and Chief Pete N. Kassetas of the New Mexico State Police.

“The everyday work of state and local law enforcement officials is a critical component in protecting our communities from the harmful impact of drugs.  In this case, exceptional work by state police turned a routine traffic stop into a major federal drug trafficking prosecution,” said U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson.  “The outstanding partnerships that we have between federal and state law enforcement officials in New Mexico is a force multiplier in our efforts to make our communities safer for our families and friends.”    

“Homeland Security Investigations is committed to combating narcotics trafficking and other public safety threats impacting the citizens of New Mexico, said Acting Special Agent in Charge Jack P. Staton of HSI in El Paso.  “Working with the New Mexico State Police, this investigation took dangerous drugs and firearms off the streets of eastern New Mexico.”

New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said, “It is a priority of the New Mexico State Police to keep drugs and criminals off the streets of New Mexico.  This case is one example of many in which law enforcement has done its job to prevent dangerous drugs and firearms from entering our communities. We will remain resolute in our commitment to finding these criminal elements and enforcing laws to keep our communities safe.”

Samples’ co-defendant Nicolas Robert Muniz, 26, also of Monahans, Tex., 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 following a routine traffic stop.  During the traffic stop, the officers deployed a drug detection canine on Muniz’s vehicle after observing that Muniz was acting in a suspicious and nervous manner.  The officers searched the vehicle and found the drugs after the canine alerted the officers to the presence of controlled substances in the vehicle.

Samples and Muniz were subsequently charged in a six-count indictment on Sept. 13, 2017.  Samples and Muniz were charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.  Muniz was charged individually with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and possession of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime.  Samples was charged individually with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and possession of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime.  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 of their statuses as convicted felons.

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, Texas, to Carlsbad, to purchase approximately 469 grams of methamphetamine with the intention of distributing the methamphetamine to others in exchange for money.  Samples further admitted that on May 16, 2017, he was in possession of a firearm and ammunition despite his status as a convicted felon. 

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, Texas to Carlsbad, N.M., to purchase approximately 469 grams of methamphetamine.  Muniz further admitted that there was a firearm loaded with several rounds of ammunition under Muniz’s seat in the vehicle Muniz was driving.  Muniz admitted that he possessed the firearm and ammunition despite his status as a convicted felon on May 16, 2017, for protection and in furtherance of his drug trafficking activities.  Muniz remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.   

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the New Mexico State Police.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brock E. Taylor and Joni L. Autrey of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office are prosecuting the case.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Component(s): 
Updated April 17, 2018