Valencia County Woman Sentenced to Prison for Federal Heroin Trafficking Conviction
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of HOPE Initiative Which Seeks to Reduce the Number of Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Fabrienne Rosalinda Morales, 40, of Peralta, N.M., was sentenced today in federal court to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for her heroin trafficking conviction.
Morales and her and 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 possessing heroin and Suboxone with intent to distribute, and Morales with distributing heroin and Suboxone. The indictment was superseded on Feb. 9, 2016, to add a third defendant, Ismael Vargas, 29, of Belen, N.M., to the conspiracy charge.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.
On Jan. 13, 2017, Morales pled guilty to distributing heroin. In entering the guilty plea, Morales admitted that on Aug. 2, 2015, she took heroin to the Sandoval County Detention Center and gave it to a corrections officer.
On March 9, 2017, Vargas pled guilty to Count 1 of the superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute heroin. In entering the guilty plea, Vargas admitted that on Aug. 2, 2015, while he was an inmate at the Sandoval County Detention Center, he arranged for heroin to be delivered to the jail. Vargas further admitted that he facilitated the payment of money to a corrections officer to get the heroin into the jail. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Vargas faces up to 41 months in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. Vargas is currently scheduled for sentencing on June 14, 2017.
On Feb. 28, 2017, Gonzales pled guilty to possessing heroin with intent to distribute. In entering the guilty plea, Gonzales admitted that on Aug. 2, 2015, while he was working as an officer at the Sandoval County Detention Center, he brought heroin to the Detention Center with the intention of delivering it to an inmate. A sentencing hearing for Gonzales is currently scheduled for May 31, 2017.
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.