ALBUQUERQUE – Three members of a Grant County methamphetamine trafficking ring, including the ringleader, pled guilty late yesterday afternoon to methamphetamine trafficking charges. The three were part of a group of 12 defendants who were indicted in April 2015, as the result of an investigation that began in March 2014, and targeted a drug trafficking organization led by Daniel Lee Jacquez, 34, of Silver City, N.M., that distributed methamphetamine in Grant County, N.M. Three other defendants previously entered guilty pleas in this case.
The 12 defendants were charged in a 34-count indictment with participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy and committing a series of substantive drug trafficking offenses and a firearms offense. The conspiracy count charged all 12 defendants with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine in Grant County from March 2014 through April 2015. Eight counts charged certain defendants with distributing or possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine, 24 counts charge certain defendants with using communications devices (telephones) to facilitate drug trafficking crimes, and one charged a defendant with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
During yesterday’s proceedings, Jacquez pled guilty to a felony information charging him with participating in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy. In entering the guilty plea, Jacquez admitted that from March 2014 through April 2015, he and his co-defendants distributed five to 15 kilograms of methamphetamine in Grant County. Jacquez also admitted that law enforcement agents discovered numerous firearms and ammunition in his residence when they executed a search warrant on April 30, 2015. Under the terms of his plea agreement, the lead defendant, Jacquez will be sentenced to 108 months in prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.
Gary Lee Romero, 31, of Santa Clara, N.M., also pled guilty yesterday to a felony information charging him with participating in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy, and admitted working with his co-defendants to distribute approximately 500 grams to 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamine in Silver City between March 2015 and April 2015. At sentencing, Romero faces a statutory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison.
Freddy J. Lucero, 47, of Silver City, also pled guilty yesterday to a felony information charging him with a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy. At sentencing, Lucero faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
Three other defendants previously have entered guilty pleas in this case. Bernice Holguin Miranda, 50, of Silver City, pled guilty on Sept. 16, 2015, and Lynette Medina, 42, of Silver City, pled guilty on Nov. 19, 2015, to conspiracy charges and to using communication devices to facilitate a drug trafficking crime. At sentencing, Miranda and Medina each face a statutory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison. Judah Grande Mondello, 31, of Arenas Valley, N.M., pled guilty on May 25, 2016, to a conspiracy charge, two counts of distributing methamphetamine, and to using a communication device to facilitate a drug trafficking crime. At sentencing, Mondello faces a statutory minimum of ten years and a maximum of life in federal prison.
Sentencing hearings for the six defendants who have entered guilty plea have yet to be scheduled.
The remaining six defendants have entered not guilty pleas to the indictment and are pending trial. Charges in indictments are only accusations. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by the Las Cruces offices of the DEA, HSI and FBI with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service and the New Mexico State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna R. Wright of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting this case.
The investigation leading to the filing of charges in this case was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, a nationwide Department of Justice program that combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations.