DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Friday, April 7, 2017
James D. Tierney
, United States Attorney
Contact: Elizabeth M. Martinez

Albuquerque Woman Sentenced for Federal Methamphetamine Trafficking Conviction

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 – Bernadette Aurora Tapia, 49, of Albuquerque, N.M., was sentenced today in federal court to 21 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for her methamphetamine trafficking conviction. 
Bernadette Aurora Tapia (Tapia) and her co-defendants Gaspar Leal, 47, Brandon Candelaria, 22 and Candace Tapia, 22, were arrested during an ATF-led investigation that resulted in the filing of 59 federal indictments and a 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.
Tapia and her co-defendants were charged by indictment on July 12, 2016, with conspiracy and distribution of methamphetamine on June 8, 2016, in Bernalillo County.  On Dec. 13, 2016, Tapia pled guilty to conspiracy and admitted that on June 8, 2016, she agreed with others to distribute methamphetamine to another person.
To date, 40 of the 104 defendants have entered guilty pleas and 13 have been sentenced.  The remaining defendants including Leal, Candelaria and Candace Tapia, 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 ATF.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel A. Hurtado prosecuted the case.
Phoenix Field Division