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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 26, 2015

Three San Juan County Residents Plead Guilty to Federal Narcotics Trafficking Charges

Defendants were Three of Twenty-Nine Charged in February 2014 with Trafficking Methamphetamine in San Juan County

ALBUQUERQUE – Casey Lamotte, 30, of Flora Vista, N.M., Curtis Murray, 51, of Farmington, N.M., and Robert Valdez, 51, of Bloomfield, N.M., entered guilty pleas today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to methamphetamine trafficking charges

Lamotte, Murray and Valdez were three of 29 individuals charged in Feb. 2014, with drug trafficking offenses as the result of a multi-agency investigation targeting drug trafficking in northwestern New Mexico.  The investigation culminated on Feb. 26, 2014, when 26 of the defendants were arrested during a law enforcement operation led by Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) and the HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force.  Two other defendants were arrested during the course of the investigation and the final defendant was arrested on March 3, 2014.

The 29 defendants were charged as a result of Operation “Brown Ice,” a year-long investigation that initially targeted a methamphetamine trafficking organization led by Isaac Anaya that distributed quantities of methamphetamine throughout San Juan County and expanded to include other drug trafficking activity in the area.  The investigation 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.

Thirteen of the defendants, including ringleader Isaac Anaya, 31, of Farmington, were charged in a 15-count federal indictment alleging a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in San Juan County from May 2013 through Sept. 2013.  The remaining 16 defendants were charged with state drug trafficking and firearms offenses based on criminal complaints.  During the course of the investigation, officers seized approximately five pounds of methamphetamine and five firearms.  The law enforcement operation on Feb. 24, 2014, included the execution of eleven federal search warrants at two Bloomfield residences, four Farmington residences, two residences in San Juan County, two Bloomfield businesses, two Farmington businesses and a storage unit in Bloomfield.  It also included the execution of three state search warrants at two residences in San Juan County and one Farmington residence.  Officers seized numerous firearms, including a fully automatic Glock 19, a short-barreled rifle and a carbine with an obliterated serial number, four blasting caps, four small binary explosives and approximately 31.7 grams of methamphetamine during the execution of the search warrants and the law enforcement operation.

During today’s proceedings, Lamotte and Murray each pled guilty to Count 1 of the indictment, and admitted participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.  Each also admitted that working as a distributor for Isaac Anaya between May 28, 2013 and Sept. 25, 2013. Lamotte further admitted to acting as a drug courier for Isaac Anaya by traveling to Arizona to obtain methamphetamine and transporting it back to Farmington, where the drugs were distributed by Isaac Anaya to other individuals.

Valdez pled guilty to Count 14 of the indictment, and admitted using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense.  Valdez admitted discussing a methamphetamine purchase with co-defendant Richard Archuleta, 33, of Bloomfield, to obtain methamphetamine for himself and co-defendant Yvonne Anaya, 39, also of Bloomfield, in Aug. 2013.  Archuleta pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and a phone count on Sept.12, 2014.  Yvonne Anaya has entered a not guilty plea.

To date, ten of the 13 federal defendants, including Isaac Anaya, have entered guilty pleas and are pending sentencing.  The remaining three federal defendants have entered not guilty pleas to the indictment; they are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The federal and state cases filed as a result of Operation “Brown Ice” were investigated by the HSI office in Albuquerque, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force, Bloomfield Police Department, Farmington Police Department and Aztec Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Reeve L. Swainston and Shana B. Long are prosecuting the federal case, and Assistant District Attorney David Cowen of the 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the state cases.

The HIDTA Region II Task Force is comprised of officers and investigators from the Farmington Police Department, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, Bloomfield Police Department and Aztec Police Department, and is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988.  HIDTA is a program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) which provides assistance to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States and seeks to reduce drug trafficking and production by facilitating coordinated law enforcement activities and information sharing.

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Updated February 26, 2015