Three Las Cruces Residents Plead Guilty to Federal Methamphetamine Trafficking Charges
ALBUQUERQUE – Three residents of Las Cruces, N.M., have pleaded guilty to methamphetamine trafficking charges in federal court. Jennifer Sanders, 42, entered a guilty plea this morning and Jose Luis Niño, 40, pleaded guilty on July 16, 2014. Their co-defendant, Aubrey Savage, 34, entered her guilty plea on June 11, 2014.
Sanders, Niño and Savage and co-defendants Matthew Maley, 47, and Candice Marie Carpenter, 35, both of Tucson, Az., are charged in a 14-count superseding indictment filed on March 19, 2014. Count 1 of the superseding indictment charges Sanders, Savage and Maley with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Doña Ana County, N.M., from June 2013 through Aug. 2013. Count 11 charges Maley, Nino and Carpenter with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Doña Ana County in Dec. 2013. The defendants are charged with substantive methamphetamine distribution offenses as follows: Savage is charged in Counts 2 and 3; Sanders and Savage are charged in Counts 4 through 8; and Counts 9 and 10 charge Sanders and Maley with distributing methamphetamine. Count 12 charges Maley, Niño and Carpenter with distributing methamphetamine. Counts 13 and 14 charge Niño and Maley, respectively, with being felons in possession of firearms and ammunition.
According to court filings, Maley was the head of a drug trafficking organization involved in trafficking significant quantities of methamphetamine in New Mexico and Arizona. During July and Aug. 2013, undercover officers allegedly made several controlled purchases of methamphetamine from Maley, Sanders and Savage, including the purchase of a pound of methamphetamine on Aug. 21, 2013. From Oct. through Dec. 2013, an informant purchased methamphetamine from Niño, who allegedly obtained the methamphetamine from Maley. On Dec. 4, 2013, officers seized approximately 274 grams of methamphetamine when they executed a search warrant at Niño’s residence in Las Cruces.
Today, Sanders pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and seven counts of distribution of methamphetamine, and Sanders admitted selling methamphetamine to a person who turned out to be an undercover officer on seven separate occasions between June 12, 2013 and Aug. 21, 2013. She acknowledged that the quantities of methamphetamine involved in the sales ranged from 5.4 grams in the first transaction to more than 250 grams in the last two transactions. Sanders remains in custody pending her sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Sanders faces a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.
Niño pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of conspiracy, one count of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and one count of being a felon in possession of ammunition. In his plea agreement, Niño admitted possessing 274 grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in his home on Dec. 4, 2013. He also admitted unlawfully possessing 30 rounds of ammunition on that day. Niño was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of a felony drug trafficking offense. Niño remains in custody pending his sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled. Like Sanders, Niño faces a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.
Savage pled guilty to a conspiracy count on June 11, 2014. In her plea agreement, Savage admitted distributing methamphetamine on seven separate occasions between June 7, 2013 and July 11, 2013. The quantities involved in those transactions ranged from .97 grams to 97.3 grams. Savage faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years in prison when she is sentenced. She, too, remains in custody pending her sentencing date.
Maley has entered a not guilty plea and remains in custody pending trial. Carpenter was arrested on July 17, 2014 and is in custody pending arraignment and a detention hearing next week. Allegations in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the FBI and Las Cruces/ Doña Ana County Metro Narcotics Agency, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Y. Armijo of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.