DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Mexico

For Immediate Release

Thursday, October 19, 2017
James D. Tierney
, United States Attorney
Contact: Elizabeth M. Martinez

45th Defendant Sentenced on Federal Charges Arising Out of ATF-Led Operation Targeting Drug Trafficking and Firearms Crime in Bernalillo County

Defendant One of 103 Individuals Federally Charged as a Result of ATF-Led Investigation Pursued in Support of Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative; Prosecuted Under HOPE Initiative that Seeks to Reduce Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico

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 103 Bernalillo County residents with federal firearms and narcotics trafficking offenses.  To date, 80 of the 103 defendants charged as the result of this investigation have entered guilty pleas and 45 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.
 
Today, Albuquerque, N.M., resident Matthew Sandoval, 38, was sentenced to 60 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his conviction on a heroin trafficking charge.
 
Sandoval and co-defendant Keith Thompson, 48, were arrested in July 2016, and were charged in a two-count indictment with distributing heroin on May 9, 2016, and distributing methamphetamine on May 19, 2016.  Sandoval entered a guilty plea on June 30, 2017, and Thompson entered a guilty plea on June 29, 2017.  In entering their guilty pleas, Sandoval and Thompson both admitted that on May 9, 2016, they sold heroin to another individual.  Thompson is currently scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 31, 2017.
 
Twenty 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.   Two defendants are fugitives and the charges against two defendants have been dismissed.
 
This case against Sandoval was investigated by the Albuquerque office of ATF and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel A. Hurtado.
 
###
Field Division: Phoenix Field Division