ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — Five residents of Luna County, New Mexico, are facing federal narcotics trafficking and money laundering charges as the result of a multi-agency investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
These charges against the five defendants are resulted from a multi-agency investigation led by HSI into a Deming, New Mexico-based methamphetamine trafficking organization allegedly led by Domingo Rodriguez.
This investigation was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, a Department of Justice program that combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations. It included a series of methamphetamine purchases by individuals working under the supervision of law enforcement officers. During the course of this investigation, law enforcement authorities seized and purchased more than two pounds methamphetamine. They also seized more than another pound of methamphetamine during a law enforcement operation Thursday in Deming.
The following five defendants are charged in a nine-count indictment alleging methamphetamine trafficking and money laundering offenses: Rodriguez, 45, Leslie Frank Williams, 51, Oscar Garcia, 45, and Andy Garcia, 43, all residents of Deming; and Estella Aguilar, 44, of Tucson, Arizona.
All five defendants are charged with participating in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy in Luna County between July 2015 and April 2016. Williams is also charged with distributing quantities of methamphetamine on four dates between July 2015 and Sept. 2015. Williams and Rodriguez are charged with distributing methamphetamine in November 2015. Further, Williams, Rodriguez and Garcia are also charged with distributing methamphetamine in January 2016.
Rodriguez, Oscar Garcia and Aguilar are charged with participating in a money laundering conspiracy; and Rodriguez and Aguilar are also charged with a money laundering offense. The indictment includes forfeiture provisions seeking a money judgment of $1 million, the sum allegedly derived from the drug trafficking crimes alleged in the indictment. Aguilar surrendered herself into HSI special agents May 23 in Tucson, Arizona.
Williams and Rodriguez were arrested Thursday. They made their initial appearances in federal court Friday in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Oscar Garcia is in state custody in Oklahoma, and Andy Garcia is in state custody in New Mexico on unrelated charges. Both will be transferred to federal custody to face the charges in the indictment. Aguilar has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.
If convicted on the methamphetamine charges, each of the five defendants faces a statutory mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. If convicted on the money laundering charges, Rodriguez, Oscar Garcia and Aguilar each face a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
This case was investigated by the following agencies and offices: HSI Deming and HSI Las Cruces, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Border Patrol (OBP) in Las Cruces and Deming, Luna and Grant counties (New Mexico) Sheriff’s Office, Deming and Silver City (New Mexico) police departments, New Mexico High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Intelligence Center, the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), ICE Enforcement Removal Operations (ERO), and ICE Office of Intelligence and Analysis.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark A. Saltman and Dustin Segovia, District of New Mexico’s Las Cruces Branch Office, are prosecuting this case.
Charges in indictments and complaints are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless convicted in a court of law.