DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, January 17, 2018
James D. Tierney
, United States Attorney
Contact: Alyssa C. Ferda

57th 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 57 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, Felix Ulibarri, 39, was sentenced to 84 months in prison followed by six years of supervised release for his conviction on a methamphetamine trafficking charge.

Ulibarri was indicted on July 28, 2016, and was charged with distributing methamphetamine on July 11, 2016. The indictment subsequently was superseded on Aug. 9, 2016, to add Leo Lopez, 29, Joseph Sena, 40, and Jennifer Padilla, 39. The superseding indictment charged Ulibarri and Padilla with participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in July 2016; Lopez, Sena and Padilla with participating in a different conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in July 2016; Ulibarri with distributing methamphetamine on July 11, 2016; and Sena with distributing methamphetamine on July 26, 2016. According to the indictment, the defendants committed the crimes in Bernalillo County. On Aug. 22, 2017, Ulibarri pled guilty to one count of distributing methamphetamine and admitted that on July 11, 2016, he distributed more than 50 grams of methamphetamine to an undercover law enforcement agent.

Ulibarri’s three co-defendants have entered guilty pleas. Padilla pled guilty on Sept. 22, 2017, and was sentenced to 24 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on Jan. 3, 2018. Lopez pled guilty on March 20, 2017, and was sentenced to 60 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release on June 19, 2017. Sena pled guilty on May 5, 2017, and is pending sentencing.

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 Eva Fontanez.

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Field Division: Phoenix Field Division