For Immediate Release
TWO MORE ALBUQUERQUE RESIDENTS PLEAD GUILTY TO FEDERAL CHARGES ARISING OUT OF ATF-LED OPERATION TARGETING DRUG TRAFFICKING AND FIREARMS CRIME IN BERNALILLO COUNTY
Defendants Two of 104 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 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) concluded with the filing of 59 federal indictments and a federal criminal complaint charging 104 Bernalillo County residents with federal firearms and narcotics trafficking offenses. To date, 68 of the 104 defendants charged as the result of this investigation have entered guilty pleas and 30 of them have been sentenced.
Juan Jose Rivas, 33, and Guajira Maya Lovato, 44, both pled guilty yesterday in federal court to methamphetamine trafficking charges. Lovato, who was charged in three indictments filed as the result of the investigation, pled guilty under a plea agreement requiring a five-year prison sentence.
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.
One indictment charged Rivas, Lovato and their co-defendants Janet Bowman, 40, and Anthony Barela, 34, with a methamphetamine trafficking offense. The indictment was superseded to add a fifth defendant, Maria Citlaly Beltran-Ahumada, 37, and another methamphetamine trafficking charge. The superseding indictment charged the five defendants with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from June 21, 2016 through Aug. 9, 2016, and with distributing methamphetamine on June 22, 2016.
A second indictment charged Lovato and co-defendant Desiree Otero, 24, with conspiracy to distribute heroin from July 20, 2016 through Aug. 9, 2016 and with distributing heroin on July 20, 2016. A third indictment charged Lovato and co-defendants Daniel Loya, 31, and Richard Cortez, 37, with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from July 21, 2016 through Aug. 9, 2016, and with distributing methamphetamine on July 21, 2016.
During yesterday’s proceedings, Rivas pled guilty to an information charging him with distributing methamphetamine, and admitted that on June 22, 2016, he participated in the sale of two ounces of methamphetamine to another individual. At sentencing, Rivas faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.
Lovato entered a guilty plea in the same case to a methamphetamine distribution charge, and admitted that on June 22, 2016, she communicated with a drug purchaser regarding the price for two ounces of methamphetamine and later helped to complete the transaction. Her sentencing hearing also has yet to be scheduled.
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.
These cases were investigated by the Albuquerque office of ATF and are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Presiliano Torrez.