Federal Jury Finds Career Offender From Albuquerque Guilty Of Crack Trafficking And Firearms Charges
Leader of crack trafficking organization faces prison sentence of thirty years to life; prosecution brought under federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A federal jury sitting in Albuquerque, N.M., returned a verdict late yesterday afternoon finding Gabriel Mirabal guilty on narcotics trafficking and firearms charges after a six-day trial. The guilty verdict was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy of DEA’s El Paso Division, 1st Judicial District Attorney Angela R. “Spence” Pacheco, and New Mexico State Police Lt. Scott McFaul who serves as the Commander of the HITDA Region III Drug Task Force.
U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said that Mirabal, a 34-year-old Albuquerque resident, was prosecuted as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” violent and repeat offenders for federal prosecution. “Since turning 18, Mirabal has engaged in criminal conduct resulting in state felony convictions in Bernalillo, McKinley and Santa Fe Counties for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, cocaine and methamphetamine trafficking, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, and assault on an officer. This conviction - Mirabal’s one and only federal conviction - will make our communities safer by taking Mirabal off our streets for 30 years.”
This is a prime example of how the ‘worst of the worst’ initiative is making a difference in New Mexico. For over 15 years, Mr. Mirabal had no regard for the law or the safety of this community, endangering the lives of New Mexicans,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Will Glaspy. “Now he’s looking at a good 30 years of sitting in a prison cell to think about his actions.”
“This conviction is a significant step towards making our communities safer by rooting out drug dealers and other criminal elements. We are pleased to have worked with the U.S. Attorney's Office, the DEA and the HIDTA Region III Drug Task Force to bring this career offender to justice,” said 1st Judicial District Attorney Angela R. Pacheco.
Lt. Scott McFaul, Commander of the HIDTA Region III Drug Task Force, added, “This is another great example of what can happen when agencies share information, combine resources, and work together.”
Mirabal was one of five men indicted in April 2013, on narcotics and firearms charges as the result of “Operation Rio Grande Stucco,” a DEA investigation into an organization led by Mirabal that manufactured and distributed cocaine base, more commonly known as “crack,” in Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties, N.M. The investigation was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task (OCDETF) program, a nationwide Department of Justice initiative 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. During the course of the investigation, which utilized electronic (wiretaps), law enforcement officers seized more than 100 grams of crack, over a kilogram of cocaine, a loaded firearm and assorted ammunition, and body armor.
The investigation resulted in the filing of a five-count indictment in April 2015, that charged Mirabal and four co-defendants, Santa Fe residents Robert Romero, 27, and Michael Jaramillo, 25, and Albuquerque residents Sam Elyicio, Jr., 39, and Dominic Anaya, 34, with conspiracy to distribute crack in Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties between May 2012 and April 2013, and substantive crack trafficking offenses. After his four co-defendants entered guilty pleas, Mirabal was charged in a six-count superseding indictment with participating in a crack distribution conspiracy, two counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and being a felon in possession of body armor.
Mirabal’s trial on the six-count superseding indictment began on Dec. 7, 2015, and concluded late yesterday when the jury returned a verdict finding Mirabal guilty on four of the six counts. The jury convicted Mirabal on the conspiracy charge, one count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and being a felon in possession of a firearm, ammunition and body armor. It acquitted him on one count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Mirabal remains in federal custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Mirabal faces an enhanced penalty of not less than 20 years to life imprisonment on the narcotics trafficking charges based on his prior drug trafficking conviction. Because of his status as a career offender, Mirabal also faces an enhanced sentence of 30 years to life imprisonment.
The charges against Mirabal’s co-defendants have been resolved as follows:
- Jaramillo pleaded guilty on March 21, 2014, to a conspiracy charge, and was sentenced on July 30, 2014, to 78 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release.
- Romero pleaded guilty on May 13, 2014, to crack trafficking and firearms charges, and was sentenced on Aug. 13, 2014, to 120 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release.
- Elyicio pleaded guilty on June 23, 2014, to a conspiracy charge, and was sentenced on Sept. 22, 2014, to 125 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release.
- Anaya pleaded guilty on Aug. 5, 2014, to a conspiracy charge, and remains in custody pending his sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the DEA and the HIDTA Region III Drug Task Force, with assistance from the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas J. Ganjei and Joel R. Meyers.
The Region III Drug Task Force is comprised of officers from the New Mexico State Police, Santa Fe Police Department, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office and the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office and receives support from the HIDTA - High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area - program. HIDTA is a program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy that provides assistance to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States.Mirabal was prosecuted under the federal “worst of the worst” anti-violence initiative. Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible. Because New Mexico’s violent crime rates, on a per capita basis, are amongst the highest in the nation, New Mexico’s law enforcement community is collaborating to target repeat offenders from counties with the highest violent crime rates, including Bernalillo County, under this initiative.