Texas Women Arrested on Federal Heroin Trafficking Charges in New Mexico
Charges Arising out of Five-Pound Heroin Seizure by U.S. Border Patrol to be Prosecuted Under HOPE Initiative that Seeks to Reduce Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Two Texas residents made their initial appearances this morning in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., on narcotics trafficking charges arising out of a U.S. Border Patrol seizure of more than five pounds of heroin on June 22, 2016, announced U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, Chief Patrol Agent Jeffrey D. Self of the U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector, and Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy of El Paso Division of the DEA.
Elizabeth Ordonez-Ochoa, 36, and Olivia Ceniceros-Favela, 32, both of El Paso, Texas, were arrested on June 22, 2016, after U.S. Border Patrol Agents at the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 25 north of Las Cruces allegedly seized approximately 5.05 pounds of heroin from the vehicle in which Ordonez-Ochoa was traveling. According to the criminal complaint, part of the heroin allegedly was concealed in a pair of shoes worn by Ordonez-Ochoa. The rest allegedly was concealed in a second pair of shoes that were under the driver’s seat. Agents later arrested Ceniceros-Favela when she allegedly attempted to pick up Ordonez-Ochoa in the vicinity of a Walmart store in Las Cruces.
Both women remain in federal custody pending preliminary hearings and detention hearings, which have yet to be scheduled. If convicted of the charges in the criminal complaint, the two women each face a statutory mandatory minimum of ten years and a maximum of life in federal prison. Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the Las Cruces Station of the U.S. Border Patrol and the El Paso office of the DEA. Assistant U.S. Attorney Clara N. Cobos of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting the case as part of the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative.
The HOPE Initiative was launched in January 2015 by the UNM Health Sciences Center and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in response to the national opioid epidemic, which has had a disproportionately devastating impact on New Mexico. Opioid addiction has taken a toll on public safety, public health and the economic viability of our communities. Working in partnership with the DEA, the Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative, Healing Addiction in our Community (HAC), the Albuquerque Public Schools and other community stakeholders, HOPE’s principal goals are to protect our communities from the dangers associated with heroin and opioid painkillers and reducing the number of opioid-related deaths in New Mexico.
The HOPE Initiative is comprised of five components: (1) prevention and education; (2) treatment; (3) law enforcement; (4) reentry; and (5) strategic planning. HOPE’s law enforcement component 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 and opioid trafficking organizations for investigation and prosecution is a priority of the HOPE Initiative. Learn more about the New Mexico HOPE Initiative at http://www.HopeInitiativeNM.org.