DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Friday, January 12, 2018
James D. Tierney
, United States Attorney
Contact: Elizabeth M. Martinez

Prior Felon from Belen Pleads Guilty to Unlawfully Possessing Body Armor and Oxycodone Trafficking Charges

Romero Prosecuted Under Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative and HOPE Initiative Which Seeks to Reduce Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Barry Romero, 38, of Belen, N.M, pled guilty today in Albuquerque, N.M., to unlawfully possessing body armor and Oxycodone trafficking.  Romero’s plea agreement recommends a 96-month term of imprisonment followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. 

Romero is being prosecuted under a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution because of his previous felony convictions for armed robbery, attempt to commit robbery and cocaine trafficking.  Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders primarily based on their prior criminal convictions for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.

Romero was arrested on Sept. 28, 2016, on a two-count indictment charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and possession of body armor by a felon who has been convicted of a crime of violence.  According to the indictment, Romero committed the crimes on Nov. 10, 2015, in Valencia County, N.M.  Romero was prohibited from possessing firearms, ammunition or body armor because of his prior felony convictions. 

During today’s change of plea hearing, Romero pled guilty to a felony information charging him with possession of body armor by a felon who has been convicted of a crime of violence and possession of Oxycodone with intent to distribute.  In entering the guilty plea, Romero admitted that on Nov. 10, 2015, he was arrested at his residence in Belen, by Deputy U.S. Marshals who had a warrant for Romero’s arrest on a parole violation.  During the execution of a search warrant on Romero’s residence incident to his arrest, law enforcement agents located body armor, two handgun cases, ammunition, Oxycodone and drug paraphernalia.  Romero further admitted that he possessed the oxycodone with the intent to distribute it to other people.  Romero acknowledged that he was convicted of armed robbery in 2005, prior to unlawfully obtaining the body armor.  Romero remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman Cairns is prosecuting the case as part of the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative.  The HOPE Initiative was launched in January 2015 by the UNM Health Sciences Center and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in response to the national opioid epidemic, which has had a disproportionately devastating impact on New Mexico.  Opioid addiction has taken a toll on public safety, public health and the economic viability of our communities.  Working in partnership with the DEA, the Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative, Healing Addiction in our Community (HAC), the Albuquerque Public Schools and other community stakeholders, HOPE’s principal goals are to protect our communities from the dangers associated with heroin and opioid painkillers and reducing the number of opioid-related deaths in New Mexico. 

The HOPE Initiative is comprised of five components:  (1) prevention and education; (2) treatment; (3) law enforcement; (4) reentry; and (5) strategic planning.  HOPE’s law enforcement component is led by the Organized Crime Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the DEA in conjunction with their federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners.  Targeting members of major heroin and opioid trafficking organizations for investigation and prosecution is a priority of the HOPE Initiative.  Learn more about the New Mexico HOPE Initiative at http://www.HopeInitiativeNM.org.

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