Three Men Pled Guilty to Federal Charges Involving Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premises
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Gregory M. Millard, Special Agent in Charge for the DEA El Paso Division, announced today that Kamal Bhula, Pragneshkumar Patel and Johnathan Craft pled guilty to drug and firearms charges arising from a drug trafficking venture run out of a motel Albuquerque. Bhula and Craft will remain in custody pending sentencing, which has not been scheduled.
Kamal Bhula, 44, of Albuquerque, and Pragneshkumar “Pete” Patel, 36, of Montgomery, Alabama, pled guilty to one count each of maintaining a drug-involved premise. Jonathan Craft, 36, of Albuquerque, pled guilty to conspiracy and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm or ammunition.
A federal grand jury indicted Bhula and Craft on June 20, 2019. Patel was indicted on November 5, 2019. According to court records, Patel owned the Best Choice Inn at 7640 Central Avenue SE and was the on-site manager from September 2017 to March 2018, when Bhula leased the property from Patel and took over as the on-site manager. Craft lived and worked at Best Choice Inn, claiming to be in charge when Bhula was away. Craft sold drugs from his room, permitted others to do the same, and permitted individuals to use drugs on the premises. Craft also unlawfully possessed a firearm. Bhula and Patel allowed drug trafficking at the motel and personally observed and profited from those who used controlled substances on the premises.
At sentencing, Bhula, Craft and Patel each face up to 20 years in prison.
The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated this case with assistance from the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, the Albuquerque Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State Police. Assistant United States Attorneys Letitia Carroll Simms and Jack E. Burkhead are prosecuting the case.
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