For Immediate Release
Another Defendant Pleads Guilty and Two More are Sentenced on Federal Charges Arising Out of ATF-Led Operation Targeting Drug Trafficking and Firearms Crime in Bernalillo County
78 of 103 Federal Defendants Charged as the Result of ATF-Led Investigation Pursued in Support of Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative have Pleaded Guilty
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, 78 of the 103 defendants charged as the result of this investigation have entered guilty pleas and 41 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.
This week, another defendant entered a guilty plea and two other defendants were sentenced on guilty pleas previously entered.
Albuquerque resident David Torrez, 32, entered a guilty plea on Sept. 26, 2017, to a methamphetamine trafficking charge. Torrez and co-defendant Jeneill Ayala, 25, were charged by indictment on July 28, 2016, with conspiracy and distributing methamphetamine on June 21, 2016, in Bernalillo County. Torrez pled guilty to Count 2 of the indictment and admitted selling approximately two ounces of methamphetamine to an undercover law enforcement agent on June 21, 2016. At sentencing, Torrez faces a statutory penalty of not less than five years and not more than 40 years in federal prison. His sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled. Ayala has entered a not guilty plea to the charges in the indictment and is pending trial, which is scheduled for Nov. 27, 2017.
Also on Sept. 26, 2017, two other Albuquerque residents were sentenced for their convictions on methamphetamine trafficking offenses. Joshua Sedillo, 31, was sentenced to 140 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release, while his co-defendant Ramon Quezada, 33, was sentenced to 48 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
Sedillo and Quezada were arrested in July 2016, on an indictment charging them with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine on May 11, 2016, and Sedillo individually with distributing methamphetamine on May 25, 2016. On Jan. 23, 2017, Quezada pled guilty to a felony information charging him with distributing methamphetamine and admitted that on May 11, 2016, he possessed approximately 90 grams of methamphetamine which he intended to transfer to another person. Sedillo pled guilty to the indictment on April 18, 2017, without the benefit of a plea agreement.
Twenty-two of the defendants who were 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. One defendant is a fugitive and the charges against two defendants have been dismissed.
These cases were investigated by the Albuquerque office of ATF. Assistant U.S. Attorney Presiliano Torrez prosecuted Sedillo and Quezada, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eva Fontanez is prosecuting Torrez.