Interagency operation nets indictments in drug conspiracy
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson today announced the federal indictments of 18 individuals in the Roswell, New Mexico, area on charges ranging from distribution of methamphetamine to money laundering. The charges are contained three separate indictments totaling 66 counts.
According to the indictments and other court records, the defendants allegedly conspired to traffic large amounts of methamphetamine in and around Roswell. The investigation began in 2019 when the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force and the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force began an investigation of a Roswell resident who was selling significant quantities of methamphetamine.
“Methamphetamine is a persistent scourge on our state, and southeastern New Mexico has been substantially impacted by methamphetamine trafficking and use,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson. “This investigation prevented over 100 pounds of methamphetamine from reaching our streets and stopped that methamphetamine from further damaging our communities. This operation is yet another example of our federal agencies working collaboratively with state and local law enforcement partners to reduce dangerous crime in this district. My office is prosecuting 18 individuals on a variety of drug trafficking, money laundering and firearms charges, and putting others on notice that if you traffic methamphetamine in New Mexico, you will be found and prosecuted.”
Investigators executed four search warrants at locations in Roswell and Dexter, New Mexico. As of today, 17 defendants have been arrested, while one defendant is not yet in custody.
The investigation included agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the IRS, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force and the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force.
“A year ago, we established a Post of Duty in Roswell to quickly and efficiently respond to requests for DEA assistance from local law enforcement, and to further investigative efforts throughout the southeastern region of the state of New Mexico,” said Kyle W. Williamson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s El Paso Division. “This is one of the successful operations as a result of this post of duty. DEA will continue to work with other federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to leverage and strengthen our respective resources to pursue those who would threaten our communities.”
“This joint effort is a direct reflection of the incredible cooperation between our law enforcement partners and will provide these communities with peace of mind and a stronger sense of community security,” said Sonya K. Chavez, United States Marshal for the District of New Mexico.
“HSI remains committed to working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to combat drug trafficking in Southeast New Mexico,” said Erik P. Breitzke, acting Special Agent in Charge for HSI El Paso. “I commend the hard work of all involved to successfully plan and execute an operation of this magnitude, especially during an unprecedented pandemic, to ensure that dangerous drugs are kept off our streets.”
“It takes a significant amount of coordination, cooperation, and hard work from numerous agencies to investigate a case of this scale,” stated Special Agent in Charge Ismael Nevarez, Jr., of the Phoenix Field Office of IRS-Criminal Investigation. “IRS-CI is fully committed to investigating money laundering by transnational drug trafficking organizations.”
This investigation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations.
The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force is comprised of investigators from the Roswell Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI and the Chaves County Sherriff’s Office. The HIDTA Pecos Valley Drug Task Force is comprised of officers from the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, Carlsbad Police Department and Artesia Police Department. Both are part of the New Mexico HIDTA Region VI Drug Task Force. HIDTA is a program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) which 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 and seeks to reduce drug trafficking and production by facilitating coordinated law enforcement activities and information sharing.
The Las Cruces branch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico is prosecuting this case.