Six defendants charged in conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine in Northern New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Jose Mendoza, 32, and Natalie Mendoza, 35, of Medanales, New Mexico, Ryan Rodriguez, 27, of Chamita, New Mexico, Andrea Rodriguez, 28, and Edvardo Carlson, 39, of Espanola, New Mexico, and Bridget Archuleta, 31, of San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico appeared in federal court today for arraignment on an indictment charging them with various drug trafficking offenses involving crack cocaine (cocaine base) in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico from Oct. 2, 2019, to Feb. 25, 2020.
A grand jury returned an indictment against the defendants on Feb. 25. Federal agents arrested them on Feb. 27 with assistance from state and local law enforcement. According to public court records, Jose Mendoza, and his wife, Natalie Mendoza, allegedly were high-level suppliers of cocaine in the Espanola Valley of New Mexico. Natalie Mendoza allegedly kept records of drug sales and collected proceeds from drug transactions. Ryan Rodriguez allegedly acted as a mid-level cocaine distributor. He allegedly received supplies of cocaine from Jose and Natalie Mendoza, converted it to crack cocaine, and distributed it by the ounce to customers, including an undercover agent posing as a lower level drug trafficker.
Ryan Rodriguez’s girlfriend, Bridget Archuleta allegedly participated in drug sales with Rodriguez. Ryan Rodriguez’s sister, Andrea Rodriguez, allegedly delivered drugs to customers on Ryan Rodriguez’s behalf. Edvardo Carlson allegedly conducted drug transactions at Ryan Rodriguez’s direction. The defendants allegedly communicated extensively by telephone and text message about their drug trafficking business. According to court records, Jose Mendoza and Natalie Mendoza also laundered proceeds from their drug trafficking by making large cash payments on auto loans and large cash deposits into accounts at credit unions.
Summary of the Charges
Count 1 of the indictment charges all six defendants with conspiracy to distribute cocaine base. The maximum penalty on conviction varies for each defendant.
Counts 2, 5, 7, 9, and 11 charge certain defendants with use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense. The maximum penalty on conviction is up to four years in prison.
Count 3 of the indictment charges certain defendants with distribution of cocaine base. The maximum penalty on conviction is up to 20 years in prison.
Counts 4, 6, 8, and 10 of the indictment charge certain defendants with distribution of 28 grams or more of cocaine base. The maximum penalty on conviction is from five to 40 years in prison.
Count 12 of the indictment charges certain defendants with possession with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base. The maximum penalty on conviction is from 10years to life 40 in prison.
Charges Against Defendants
Jose Mendoza is charged in Counts 1, 2, 9, 10, 11, and 12. He was arrested on Feb. 27 and is in custody pending a detention hearing on Mar. 2.
Natalie Mendoza is charged in Counts 1, 2, 5, 7, 9, 10, and 12. She was arrested on Feb. 27 and is in custody pending a detention hearing on Mar. 2.
Ryan Rodriguez is charged in all 12 counts of the indictment. He was arrested on Feb. 27 and is in custody pending a detention hearing on Mar. 2.
Andrea Rodriguez is charged in Counts 1 and 3. She was arrested on Feb. 27 and is in custody pending a detention hearing on Mar. 2.
Edvardo Carlson is charged in Counts 1, 6, 7, and 8. He was arrested on Feb. 27 and is in custody pending a detention hearing on Mar. 2.
Bridget Archuleta is charged in Counts 1, 4, 11, and 12. She was arrested on Feb. 27 and is in custody pending a detention hearing later today.
An indictment is only an accusation. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This indictment is the product of a joint federal investigation by Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Region III Narcotics Task Force which includes members of the BIA, New Mexico State Police, the Santa Fe Police Department, the Santa Fe County Sheriff and the Taos Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter Eicker and Matthew Nelson are prosecuting the case 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.