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Cartel members convicted of federal drug trafficking charges in New Mexico Federal Court

October 10, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Cartel members convicted of federal drug trafficking charges in New Mexico Federal Court

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Two members of a Mexican drug cartel, accused of smuggling heroin and cocaine into the United States, were convicted on federal money laundering and drug trafficking charges on Thursday in the U.S. District Court of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Thirty-six-year-old Mexican native Amado Acevedo-González and 50-year-old Yolanda Rodriguez, a U.S. citizen who previously lived in Mexico, were found guilty of drug trafficking charges along with money laundering, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico revealed.

Acevedo-González, Rodriguez, and 18 other alleged cartel members were charged in a 45-count indictment that was filed back in October 2015, according to the La Cruces Sun-News.

Court records accused members of the organization of importing significant quantities of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana into the U.S. from Mexico. The suspects were charged with dealing the drugs in Albuquerque and elsewhere and smuggling the drug profits back into Mexico. The indictment revealed the group worked in Doña Ana, Luna, and Bernalillo Counties from October 2014 -October 2015.

The charges stemmed from a 10-month investigation conducted by the IRS, DEA, FBI, and U.S. Border Patrol.

During the probe, federal deputies seized and acquired 2.9 kilograms of methamphetamine, 6.2 kilograms of cocaine, 1039.9 kilograms of weed, and 351 grams of heroin. They also secured approximately $267,030 in drug profits and other assets worth $153,000.

The trial for Acevedo-González and Rodriguez started last Monday.

During the trial, evidence revealed that both suspects were members of the drug organization and brought drugs into the U.S. and transported drug proceeds back to Mexico. Evidence also suggested that Acevedo-González sold the marijuana and that Rodriguez was a carrier who brought drugs and drug proceeds from Albuquerque to Mexico.

Federal agents, who testified at trial, noted that they used wiretaps to learn about loads of marijuana and cocaine that were brought in tractor-trailers from Mexico to an auto body business in Albuquerque.

Once the shipments arrived at the shop, another cartel member coordinated with leaders in Mexico to distribute the drugs. Then, the member would accumulate drug profits and send them back to Mexico.

The agents noted that the trafficking pattern, which involved drugs moving north in tractor-trailers and drug proceeds moving south, happened many times. Based on what they knew of this pattern, agents were able to intercept over $250,000 in drug proceeds from carriers and a tractor-trailer transporting the weed.

The jury deliberated for nearly an hour before issuing guilty verdicts against Rodriguez and Acevedo-Gonzalez.

Acevedo-González was convicted of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy, and using a communication device to promote narcotics trafficking crimes. Rodriguez was found guilty of drug trafficking charges.

The defendants was also convicted on additional counts including money laundering conspiracies and international money laundering.

Both remain behind bars pending their sentencing hearings, which have not been scheduled. At sentencing, Acevedo-González faces five years in prison, and Rodriguez faces 20 years.

Of the 20 defendants named in the federal indictment, 12 have been apprehended, including 10 who pleaded guilty, and the remaining eight are considered fugitives.

The fugitives are: Carlos Adrian Ortega-Acevedes, 25, Edgar Estopellan-Torres; Ignacio Villalobos-Salinas, 30; Rigoberto Estopellan-Torres, 35; Ángel Daniel Silva-Silva, 31; Jesús Muñoz-Lechuga, 36; Emilio Delgado-Olivas, and 43; Jesús Gilberto Varela-Sánchez, 28.

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