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Alleged Members of Grant County Methamphetamine Trafficking Ring Arrested on Federal Charges

APR 30 (ALBUQUERQUE) – Twelve individuals are facing methamphetamine trafficking charges as the result of a DEA-led investigation targeting a methamphetamine trafficking ring operating in Grant County, N.M.  The 13-month investigation culminated this morning when all 12 defendants were arrested during an early morning law enforcement operation.  The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy of the DEA’s El Paso Division, Special Agent in Charge Waldemar Rodriguez of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) El Paso Division, and Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division.

The charges against the defendants are the result of an investigation that began in March 2014, and targeted a drug trafficking organization allegedly led by Daniel Lee Jacquez, 33, of Silver City, N.M., that distributed methamphetamine in Grant County, N.M.  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.

In announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said, “Today we embarked on a coordinated effort to crackdown on drug trafficking in Grant County and improve the quality of life for people who live there.  Today’s arrests are part of our statewide fight against drug trafficking.  The federal law enforcement community remains committed to safeguarding families throughout New Mexico.”

“In Silver City, New Mexico, DEA and its law enforcement partners made it abundantly clear that we will use all of our investigative tools and resources to keep our smaller communities safe from drug trafficking organizations that think they can go unnoticed operating in our smaller cities and towns,” said Will R. Glaspy, DEA.  “Today’s enforcement operations mark the culmination of a 13-month investigation that will have an enormous impact on the availability of drugs in the Silver City area and help keep this community safe.”

“Grant County, like so many of New Mexico's historic, scenic areas, offers lots for residents and visitors to do, but drug trafficking should not be one of them,” said FBI’s Carol K.O. Lee. “The FBI is proud to have worked with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Marshals Service, and the New Mexico State Police in dismantling this drug-trafficking organization.  Working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, the FBI will continue to fight the spread of harmful, illegal drugs in our communities.”

The twelve alleged members of the methamphetamine trafficking ring are charged in a 34-count indictment that alleges a drug trafficking conspiracy, a series of substantive drug trafficking offenses, and a firearms offense.  Count 1 alleges that from March 2014 through April 2015, all 12 defendants conspired to distribute methamphetamine in Grant County.  Eight counts charge certain defendants with distributing or possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine, 24 counts charge certain defendants with using communications devices (telephone) to facilitate drug trafficking crimes and one charges a defendant with being a felon in possession of a firearm.  The 12 defendants will make their initial appearances in federal court tomorrow.

During today’s law enforcement operation, officers executed federal search warrants at seven residences and one business in Grant County.  Together with evidence obtained during the course of the investigation, seizures to date include:  approximately seven ounces of methamphetamine, several pounds of marijuana, approximately $17,000 in cash, 28 firearms, three vehicles and seven motorcycles.

The case was investigated by the Las Cruces offices of the DEA, HSI and FBI.  The U.S. Marshals Service and the New Mexico State Police participated in today’s law enforcement operation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney E. Garreth Winstead of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting this case. 

Indictment in United States v. Jacquez, et al., 15-CR-1515-RB

Summary of the Charges

Count 1 of the Indictment charges all twelve defendants with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.  The statutory maximum penalty for a conviction on this count for two of the defendants is imprisonment for up to 20 years and fine of up to $1 million; for two other defendants is imprisonment for not less than five years or more than 40 years and a $5 million fine; and for the eight remaining defendants is imprisonment for not less than 10 years or more than life, and a $10 million fine.

Counts 2-4, 6, 33 and 34 charge certain defendants with distributing or possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine.  The statutory maximum penalty for a conviction on each of these counts is imprisonment for not more than 20 years and a $1million fine.

Count 5 charges two defendants with distributing five grams and more of methamphetamine.  The statutory maximum penalty for a conviction on this count is imprisonment for a mandatory minimum five years and a maximum of 40 years and a $5 million fine.

Counts 7-12 and 15-32 charge certain defendants with using a communications device (telephone) to facilitate a drug trafficking crime.  The statutory maximum penalty for a conviction on each of these counts is imprisonment for not more than four years and a $250,000.00 fine.

Count13 charges one defendant with possessing with intent to distribute 50 grams and more of methamphetamine.  The statutory maximum penalty for a conviction on this count is imprisonment for a mandatory minimum 10 years and a maximum of life and a $10 million fine.

Count 14 charges one defendant with being a felon in possession of a firearm.  The statutory maximum penalty for a conviction on this count is imprisonment for not more than 10 years and a $250,000.00 fine.

Charges Against Defendants

Daniel Lee Jacquez, 33, Silver City, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 8-11, 15-30, 32 and 33 of the indictment.

Toby Chapin Padilla, 43, Santa Clara, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 6, 8-14 and 24 of the indictment.

Judah Grande Mondello, 30, Arenas Valley, N.M., is charged in Counts 1 through 7of the indictment.

Eric James Ruiz, 36, Arenas Valley, N.M., is charged in Counts 1 through 7 of the indictment.

Gilbert J. Moreno, 25, Silver City, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 16, 19, 22 and 31 of the indictment.

Anthony R. Davila, 24, Silver City, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 20 and 23 of the indictment.

Gary Lee Romero, Jr., 30, Santa Clara, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 15, 18 and 30 of the indictment.

Crystal Medina Gomez, 49, Silver City, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 27 and 33 of the indictment.

Kevin R. Carter, 53, Glenwood, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 17, 21, 26, 32, and 34 of the indictment.

Lynette Medina, 41, Silver City, N.M., is charged in Counts 1 and 29 of the indictment.

Freddy J. Lucero, 46, Silver City, N.M., is charged in Counts 1, 6 and 9 of the indictment.

Bernice Holguin Miranda, 49, Silver City, N.M., is charged in Counts 1 and 24 of the indictment.

Charges in indictments are only accusations.  All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.


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