Two Albuquerque Residents Sentenced and Another Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges Arising Out Of ATF-led Operation Targeting Drug Trafficking and Firearms Crime in Bernalillo County
ALBUQUERQUE – In Aug. 2016, a multi-agency investigation led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) concluded with the filing of 59 federal indictments and a federal criminal complaint charging 104 Bernalillo County residents with federal firearms and narcotics trafficking offenses. To date, 69 of the 104 defendants charged as the result of this investigation have entered guilty pleas and 33 of them have been sentenced.
The investigation was undertaken in support of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution. Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies collaborate with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution primarily based on their prior criminal convictions with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.
This week, two Albuquerque residents who were charged as the result of the investigation were sentenced in federal court. Jesse James Davis, 40, was sentenced on Aug. 10, 2017, to 135 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release for his methamphetamine trafficking conviction. Richard Lucero, 37, who was charged in two indictments, also was sentenced on Aug. 10, 2017, to 41 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his methamphetamine trafficking conviction.
Another Albuquerque resident, Anthony Barela, 34, pled guilty on Aug. 3, 2017, to a methamphetamine charge under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Davis and his co-defendant, Joshua Bright, 32, were indicted on June 30, 2016, with conspiracy and distributing methamphetamine on June 6, 2016. Bright also was charged with distributing methamphetamine on June 14, 2016. On Feb. 17, 2017, Davis pled guilty to distributing methamphetamine, and admitted selling 115 grams of methamphetamine to an undercover law enforcement agent on June 6, 2016. Bright has entered a plea of not guilty to the indictment and is pending trial.
Lucero and co-defendant Benjamin Marquez, 42, were charged with methamphetamine and heroin trafficking offenses in a five-count indictment filed in July 2016. The indictment charged the two men with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine from May 6, 2016 through June 1, 2016, and distributing methamphetamine in May and June 2016. Marquez pled guilty on May 1, 2017, and is pending sentencing. A second indictment charged Lucero and co-defendants Waldo Nahle, 35, and Abel Perea, 29, with firearms and methamphetamine trafficking offenses. Lucero pled guilty to both indictments on Jan. 5, 2017, and admitted distributing methamphetamine to an undercover law enforcement agent on May 6, 2016 and July 13, 2016. Perea pled guilty on Dec. 27, 2016, and is pending sentencing. Nahle has entered a plea of not guilty to the indictment and is pending trial.
Barela and co-defendants Guajira Maya Lovato, 44, Janet Bowman, 40, and Juan Jose Rivas, 33, were charged by indictment in July 2016, with a methamphetamine trafficking offense. The indictment later was superseded to add a fifth defendant, Maria Citlaly Beltran-Ahumada, 37, and another methamphetamine trafficking charge. The superseding indictment charged the five defendants with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine from June 21, 2016 through Aug. 9, 2016, and with distributing methamphetamine on June 22, 2016. On Aug. 3, 2017, Barela pled guilty to an information charging him with distributing methamphetamine. Lovato and Rivas each pled guilty on July 27, 2017, and are pending sentencing hearings. Beltran Ahumada pled guilty on June 9, 2017, and was sentenced on June 26, 2017 to time served. Bowman has entered a plea of not guilty and is pending trial.
Thirty of the defendants charged as the result of the ATF investigation have entered not guilty pleas to the charges against them. Charges in indictments are merely accusations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
These cases were investigated by the Albuquerque office of ATF. The case against Davis was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rumaldo R. Armijo; the case against Lucero was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eva Fontanez; and the case against Barela is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Presiliano Torrez.
Source: U.S. ATF, atf.gov