Two Albuquerque Residents Plead Guilty to Violating Federal Drug Trafficking Laws
Defendants Two of 104 Individuals Federally Charged as a Result of ATF-Led Investigation Pursued in Support of Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative; Prosecuted Under HOPE Initiative that Seeks to Reduce Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Two Albuquerque residents pled guilty today to federal drug trafficking charges. Jovas Brown, 30, pled guilty to a federal methamphetamine trafficking charge and Desiree Otero, 23, pled guilty to a federal heroin trafficking charge.
Brown and Otero were arrested during an ATF-led investigation that resulted in the filing of 59 federal indictments and one federal criminal complaint charging 104 Bernalillo County residents with federal firearms and narcotics trafficking offenses. The investigation began in mid-April 2016, when ATF personnel from throughout the country joined forces with federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies in New Mexico to combat the high rate of violent crime in the Albuquerque metropolitan area. The investigators utilized a number of investigative techniques, including undercover operations, historical investigation and targeting of multi-convicted felons in possession of firearms.
The investigation was undertaken in support of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution. Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies collaborate with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution primarily based on their prior criminal convictions with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.
Brown and his co-defendant Brent Williams, 34, were arrested on July 6, 2016, on an indictment charging both with conspiracy and distribution of methamphetamine on May 16, 2016, distribution of crack cocaine on May 26, 2016, and Williams individually with distribution of methamphetamine on May 23, 2016 and June 7, 2016. During today’s change of plea hearing, Brown pled guilty to a felony information and admitted that on May 16, 2016, he distributed approximately 58.8 grams of methamphetamine.
Otero and her co-defendant Guajira Maya Lovato, 43, were charged by indictment on Aug. 9, 2016, with conspiracy to distribute heroin from July 20, 2016 through Aug. 9, 2016 and distribution of heroin on July 20, 2016. Today Otero pled guilty to possession of heroin with intent to distribute and admitted that on July 20, 2016, she distributed approximately 52 grams of heroin to an undercover law enforcement agent.
At sentencing, Brown and Otero each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. They remain in custody pending sentencing hearings, which have yet to be scheduled.
To date, 16 of the 104 defendants charged as a result of the ATF investigation have entered guilty pleas. The remaining defendants, including Brown’s and Otero’s co-defendants, have entered not guilty pleas. Charges in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
These case were investigated by the Albuquerque offices of ATF and DEA. The case against Brown and Williams is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David M. Walsh and Norman Cairns, and the case against Otero and Lovato is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Presiliano Torrez 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.