Valencia County Woman Pleads Guilty to Federal Heroin Trafficking Charge
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative Which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Fabrienne Rosalinda Morales, 39, of Peralta, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court to a heroin trafficking charge. Under the terms of her plea agreement, Morales will be sentenced to not more than 24 months in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.
Morales and her co-defendant Christopher Gonzales, 20, of Rio Rancho, N.M., were arrested in Jan. 2016, on a five-count indictment charging Morales and Gonzales with conspiracy, Gonzales with possession of heroin and suboxone with intent to distribute, and Morales with distribution of heroin and suboxone. The indictment was superseded on Feb. 9, 2016, to add a new codefendant, Ismael Vargas, 29, of Belen, N.M., to the conspiracy charge. According to the superseding indictment, the three defendants committed the crimes charged on Aug. 2, 2015, in Sandoval County, N.M. At the time, Gonzales was a corrections officer at the Sandoval County Detention Center.
During today’s proceedings, Morales pled guilty to one count of heroin distribution. In entering the guilty plea, Morales admitted that on Aug. 2, 2015, she smuggled heroin to the Sandoval County Detention Center and gave it to a corrections officer. A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.
Gonzales and Vargas have entered pleas of not guilty and are pending trial, which is currently scheduled for March 2017. Charges in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the DEA. Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Han is prosecuting the case 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.