DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Thursday, March 16, 2017
Damon P. Martinez
, United States Attorney
Contact: Elizabeth M. Martinez

Albuquerque Resident Pleads Guilty to Federal Methamphetamine Trafficking Charge

Defendant One of 104 Individuals Federally Charged as a Result of ATF-Led Investigation Pursued in Support of Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE – Josue Duarte, 31, of Albuquerque, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court to a methamphetamine trafficking charge under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Duarte and co-defendant Johnny Flores, 23, were arrested during an ATF-led investigation that resulted in the filing of 59 federal indictments and one federal criminal complaint charging 104 Bernalillo County residents with federal firearms and narcotics trafficking offenses.  The investigation began in mid-April 2016, when ATF personnel from throughout the country joined forces with federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies in New Mexico to combat the high rate of violent crime in the Albuquerque metropolitan area.  The investigators utilized a number of investigative techniques, including undercover operations, historical investigation and targeting of multi-convicted felons in possession of firearms.
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.
Duarte and Flores were charged in a four-count indictment filed on Aug. 9, 2016, with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from July 18, 2016 through July 26, 2016, and distribution of methamphetamine on July 22, 2016; Flores with distribution of methamphetamine on July 18, 2016; and Duarte with distribution of methamphetamine on July 26, 2016.  According to the indictment, the offenses took place in Bernalillo County.
During today’s proceedings, Duarte pled guilty to a felony information charging him with distribution of methamphetamine.  In entering the guilty plea, Duarte admitted that on July 26, 2016, he arranged the sale of and sold methamphetamine to an undercover law enforcement agent.  At sentencing, Duarte faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.  A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.
To date, 31 of the 104 defendants, including Flores, have entered guilty pleas, and three defendants have been sentenced.  The remaining defendants, have entered not guilty pleas.  Charges in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the ATF and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. Spiers.
Phoenix Field Division