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Contraband
10/07/2009

BEST members seize more than 190 grams of meth and arrest 3 people

DEMING, N.M. - Three individuals arrested by members of the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) remain in custody on drug charges stemming from a Sept. 29 crystal methamphetamine seizure.

BEST is a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) national initiative spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It was created along the U.S.-Mexico border to respond to cross-border crime and violence.

BEST and the Border Operations Task Force worked with the Silver City Police Department to execute a search warrant on Sept. 29 in a home on Burke Loop in Silver City, N.M. ICE agents seized 193.5 grams (6.8 ounces) of methamphetamine and arrested three people, including Christopher Llamas-Valdovinos, 25, Estrella Granado, 32, and Oswaldo Gonzalez, 42. They are charged with conspiring and possessing with the intention to distribute a controlled substance. All three remain in federal custody.

Llamas-Valdovinos, Granado and Gonzalez are among more than 60 individuals that local BEST members have arrested and charged criminally since the local task force was established on March 30.

"BEST's mission is clear - identify and eliminate cross-border criminal organizations by closely coordinating with our partner law enforcement agencies," said Manuel Oyola-Torres, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in El Paso.

In addition to ICE, Deming BEST members also include: U.S. Customs and Border Protection's U.S. Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations, New Mexico State Police; Grant and Hidalgo County sheriff's departments, Lordsburg and Silver City police departments, and the New Mexico 6th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

In Deming, BEST members from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are collocated in the task force. This interaction allows them to share information about criminal networks, such as drug and alien smuggling organizations, weapons and bulk cash smuggling networks, and the supporting infrastructures that sustain them. The task force conducts criminal investigations, and other enforcement actions against violent street gangs and others who pose a threat to public safety in New Mexico's southwestern border region.