Drug trafficking organization imported large quantities of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine from Mexico and distributed the drugs in New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Kentucky and Illinois
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Rosa De Santiago, 48, of Sunland Park, New Mexico, was sentenced in federal court today to 12 years in prison for her part in a drug trafficking and international money laundering conspiracy.
De Santiago was one of 22 defendants charged in a 44-count superseding indictment on Aug. 16, 2017, as the result of a 16-month federal investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) targeting a Mexican drug trafficking organization (DTO) responsible for importing large quantities of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine from Mexico and distributing the drugs in New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Kentucky and Illinois. During the investigation, law enforcement authorities seized approximately 30 kilograms of heroin, 64 kilograms of methamphetamine, 17 kilograms of cocaine, 20 kilograms of marijuana, 24 firearms, $102,000 in currency, and three vehicles.
De Santiago pleaded guilty on July 16, 2018, to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin, conspiracy to commit international money laundering, and possession of methamphetamine and heroin with intent to distribute. While one defendant remains a fugitive, Santiago is the last defendant in custody to be sentenced.
Upon her release from prison, De Santiago will be subject to five years of supervised release.
The Las Cruces and Albuquerque offices of the DEA investigated the case with assistance from IRS Criminal Investigation, U.S. Border Patrol, New Mexico State Police and Hatch Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Selesia L. Winston and Sarah M. Davenport are prosecuting the cases as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Program and the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative.
The OCDETF Program is 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.
The HOPE Initiative was launched in January 2015 by the UNM Health Sciences Center and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in response to the national opioid epidemic, which has had a disproportionately devastating impact on New Mexico. Opioid addiction has taken a toll on public safety, public health and the economic viability of our communities. Working in partnership with the DEA, the Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative, Healing Addiction in our Community (HAC), Albuquerque Public Schools and other community stakeholders, HOPE’s principal goals are to protect our communities from the dangers associated with heroin and opioid painkillers and reducing the number of opioid-related deaths in New Mexico. The HOPE Initiative is comprised of five components: (1) prevention and education; (2) treatment; (3) law enforcement; (4) reentry; and (5) strategic planning. HOPE’s law enforcement component is led by the Organized Crime Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the DEA in conjunction with their federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners. Targeting members of major heroin and opioid trafficking organizations for investigation and prosecution is a priority of the HOPE Initiative.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
District of New Mexico