DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Thursday, January 4, 2018
James D. Tierney
, United States Attorney
Contact: Elizabeth M. Martinez

55th Defendant Sentenced on Charges Arising Out of ATF-Led Operation Targeting Drug Trafficking and Firearms Crime in Bernalillo County

Defendant among the 103 Individuals Federally Charged as the Result of ATF-Led Investigation Pursued in Support of Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE – In Aug. 2016, a multi-agency investigation led by the 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, 84 of these defendants have been convicted, including 83 who have entered guilty pleas, and 55 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.

Yesterday, Albuquerque resident Jennifer Padilla, 39, was sentenced to 24 months in prison for her conviction on a methamphetamine trafficking charge.  Padilla will be on supervised release for three years after completing her prison sentence. 

Padilla’s co-defendant, Felix Ulibarri, 39, was indicted on July 28, 2016, and was charged with distributing methamphetamine on July 11, 2016.  The indictment was superseded on Aug. 9, 2016, to add Padilla, Leo Lopez, 29, and Joseph Sena, 40, as defendants.  The superseding indictment included two conspiracy charges; one charging Ulibarri and Padilla with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine in July 2016, and the other charging Padilla, Lopez and Sena with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine in July 2016.  It also charged Ulibarri with distributing methamphetamine on July 11, 2016, and Sena with distributing methamphetamine on July 26, 2016.  On Sept. 22, 2017, Padilla pled guilty to a felony information charging her with conspiracy, and admitted facilitating a drug deal by introducing a buyer to Ulibarri, who supplied the methamphetamine.  Her three co-defendants previously entered guilty pleas, and Lopez was sentenced on June 19, 2017 to 60 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release. 

Sixteen of the defendants charged as the result of the ATF investigation have entered not guilty pleas.  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 was investigated by the Albuquerque office of ATF and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Han.

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