Three Individuals Arrested Based on 15 Pound Heroin Seizure at U.S. Border Patrol Checkpoint in Alamogordo, New Mexico
Case Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – This morning in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., three individuals made their initial appearances on heroin trafficking charges arising out of the seizure of more than 15 pounds of heroin at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in southern New Mexico on July 10, 2018. The three defendants are temporarily detained pending preliminary hearings and detention hearings, which have yet to be scheduled.
Goretty Aguirre, 18, a Mexican national, and Mario Chavez, Jr., 18, and Nicholas Ramon Diaz, 18, both of El Paso, Texas, are charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy and possession of heroin with intent to distribute. According to the criminal complaint, U.S. Border Patrol Agents arrested the defendants on July 10, 2018, after seizing approximately seven kilograms (15.43 pounds) of heroin allegedly concealed in a vehicle driven by Chavez and in which Aguirre and Diaz were passengers. The agents allegedly found the heroin while inspecting Chavez’s vehicle at the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint near Alamogordo, N.M., in Otero County, N.M.
If convicted of the charges in the criminal complaint, Aguirre, Chavez and Diaz each face a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of ten years and a maximum of life in federal prison. Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations and criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Border Patrol and the Las Cruces office of the DEA. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joni Autrey 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.