DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Friday, September 22, 2017
James D. Tierney
, United States Attorney
Contact: Elizabeth M. Martinez

Two More Albuquerque Residents Plead Guilty to Federal Charges Arising Out of ATF-Led Operation Targeting Drug Trafficking and Firearms Crime in Bernalillo County

77 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, 77 of the 103 defendants charged as the result of this investigation have entered guilty pleas and 39 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.
Two more Albuquerque residents pled guilty today in federal court to methamphetamine trafficking offenses.  Daniel Loya, 31, pled guilty to distributing methamphetamine, and Jennifer Padilla, 39, pled guilty to participating in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy.  Padilla entered her plea under a plea agreement that recommends a 24-month term of imprisonment.
Loya and co-defendants Guajira Maya Lovato, 44, and Richard Cortez, 37, were charged with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine from July 21, 2016 through Aug. 9, 2016, and with distributing methamphetamine on July 21, 2016.  During today’s proceedings, Loya pled guilty to the distribution charge and admitted distributing 45 grams of methamphetamine to an undercover law enforcement agent on July 21, 2016.    At sentencing, Loya faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison; he remains detained pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.  Loya’s co-defendants have entered guilty pleas to methamphetamine trafficking charges and are awaiting sentencing hearings.
Padilla’s co-defendant, Felix Ulibarri, 39, was indicted on July 28, 2016, and was charged with distributing methamphetamine on July 11, 2016.  The indictment was superseded on Aug. 9, 2016, to add Padilla, Leo Lopez, 28, and Joseph Sena, 40, as defendants.  The superseding indictment included two conspiracy charges; one charging Ulibarri and Padilla with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine in July 2016, and the other charging Padilla, Lopez and Sena with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine in July 2016.  It also charged Ulibarri with distributing methamphetamine on July 11, 2016, and Sena with distributing methamphetamine on July 26, 2016.  Today, Padilla pled guilty to a felony information charging her with conspiracy, and admitted facilitating a drug deal by introducing a buyer to Ulibarri, who supplied the methamphetamine.  Padilla remains in federal custody pending a yet to be scheduled sentencing hearing.  Her three co-defendants previously entered guilty pleas. 
Twenty-three 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 is prosecuting Loya, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Han is prosecuting Padilla.
Phoenix Field Division