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Multi-state drug trafficking investigation based in Las Cruces, New Mexico concludes with 16 people indicted

April 29, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Multi-state drug trafficking investigation based in Las Cruces, New Mexico concludes with 16 people indicted

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A yearlong  DEA-led investigation into a multi-state drug trafficking enterprise based in Las Cruces, Mexico concluded with 14 arrests on Wednesday and the unsealing of five indictments filed against 16 defendants.

According to a Justice Department press release, a multi-agency investigation spearheaded by DEA and HSI targeted cocaine, heroin and meth traffickers and money launderers working in southern New Mexico, West Texas, Tennessee and South Carolina.

During the investigation, officials seized approximately 3.6 kilos of cocaine, 2.5 kilos of heroin, 13 kilos of meth, $124,885 in cash, eight cars, and seven guns.

Fourteen of the 16 suspects were arrested Wednesday in Las Cruces, and El Paso in a coordinated bust carried out by federal, state, county and city police. The two other defendants were already in custody.

The outcomes of the investigation were announced by the U.S. attorney of New Mexico, John C. Anderson.

“The charges filed, and drugs seized as the result of this investigation illustrate the success of our District’s efforts to root out traffickers who operate in our communities,” Anderson said. “My Office is proud to work with our federal, state, county and local law enforcement partners to safeguard families in Las Cruces and New Mexico.”

The investigation, which was launched last year, 31-year-old targeted Eulalio Valentin Chavez, the alleged leader of a drug trafficking group that distributed cocaine, heroin, and meth.

Eulalio Valentin Chavez Doña Ana County Detention Center

The probe then extended to include four other drug trafficking groups that imported cocaine, heroin, and meth from Mexico, and sold the drugs in the Las Cruces and El Paso area, and smuggled drugs as far east as Tennessee and South Carolina.

Five indictments were filed in the case, which charged 15 defendants with federal drug trafficking, money laundering, and firearms crimes.

The indictments claim that the defendants plotted and violated federal narcotics laws in Doña Ana County and elsewhere. The indictments also accuse certain defendants with money laundering and gun offenses.

Four of the indictments also include overt acts that refer to the drug organizations alleged tactics, including the quantities of drugs routinely distributed by the groups and the broad scope of one group’s network.

The 16th defendant was taken into custody during Wednesday’s enforcement operation and will be charged with drug trafficking and money laundering offenses on Thursday.

The defendants will remain behind bars pending arraignment and detention hearings, which are set for May 1st in Las Cruces federal court.

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