Two Cibola County Men Plead Guilty to Federal Methamphetamine Trafficking Charges
ALBUQUERQUE – Anthony Lusk, 24, of San Rafael, N.M., and Peter Valdez, 26, of Grants, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to federal methamphetamine trafficking charges under plea agreements with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Lusk and Valdez were two of the 13 Cibola County, N.M., residents charged with drug trafficking and firearms offenses as a result of a 22-month multi-agency investigation into drug trafficking in Cibola County, which was led by the DEA and the New Mexico State Police with assistance from the Grants Police Department. The investigation, which was code-named “Operation Ice Cave” and concluded with an arrest operation on March 5, 2013, 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. Eight of the 13 defendants were charged with federal drug trafficking and firearms charges and the remaining five were charged with state drug trafficking charges.
Lusk and Valdez were arrested on March 5, 2013, based on a two-count federal indictment charging them with (1) conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, and (2) distribution of methamphetamine. During this morning’s plea hearings, Lusk and Valdez each entered a guilty plea to Count 1 of the indictment, the conspiracy count.
In his plea agreement, Lusk admitted that on Oct. 3, 2012, he negotiated a three ounce methamphetamine transaction with an individual who turned out to be an undercover officer. In his plea agreement, Valdez admitted that on Oct. 3, 2012, he assisted Lusk in packaging the three ounces of methamphetamine that Lusk agreed to sell to the undercover officer. Valdez also admitted that he delivered the three ounces of methamphetamine to the undercover officer in exchange for $4,050. Both men acknowledged that the methamphetamine transaction took place in the vicinity of the Sky City Casino, which is located in Cibola County.
Lusk and Valdez are in federal custody pending their sentencing hearings, which have yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, each man faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Paul Barker, 46, and Leena Martinez, 31, and Nestor Valdez, 49, of San Rafael, were charged with violating the federal narcotics laws. Martinez and Nestor Valdez were arrested on March 5, 2013, and remain in federal custody. Martinez and Nestor Valdez each entered a not guilty plea and each is scheduled for change for plea hearings next week. Barker has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.
Adrian O. Leyva-Villalobos, 41, is a Mexican national who was residing in San Rafael when he was arrested on a federal firearms charge on March 5, 2013. Leyva-Villalobos has entered a not guilty plea and is scheduled for a change of plea hearing next week.
Rachel Basurto, 52, of Grants, who was arrested on federal drug trafficking charges, and Alberto Lujan-Ruiz, 50, a Mexican national who were residing in San Rafael, who was arrested on a federal firearms charge, have entered not guilty pleas and are pending trial.
The charges against the defendants who have not entered guilty pleas are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
These federal cases were investigated by the DEA and the New Mexico State Police with assistance from the Grants Police Department and are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel R. Meyers and Shammara H. Henderson.