ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents arrested six defendants Thursday, charged with various drug trafficking offenses involving crack cocaine.
The following agencies assisted with the investigation: Drug Enforcement Administration, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Region III Narcotics Task Force, which includes members of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, New Mexico State Police, Santa Fe Police Department, Santa Fe County Sheriff and the Taos Police Department.
Jose Mendoza, 32, and Natalie Mendoza, 35, of Medanales, New Mexico; Ryan Rodriguez, 27, of Chamita, New Mexico; Andrea Rodriguez, 28, and Edvardo Carlson, 39, of Española, New Mexico; and Bridget Archuleta, 31, of San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, appeared in federal court Friday for arraignment on an indictment charging them with various drug trafficking offenses involving crack cocaine (cocaine base) in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, from Oct. 2, 2019, to Feb. 25, 2020.
A grand jury returned an indictment against the defendants Feb. 25.
Federal agents arrested them on Thursday with assistance from state and local law enforcement.
According to public court records allegations have been made that, Jose Mendoza, and his wife, Natalie Mendoza, were high-level suppliers of cocaine in the Española Valley of New Mexico. Natalie Mendoza allegedly kept records of drug sales and collected proceeds from drug transactions.
Further, that Ryan Rodriguez acted as a mid-level cocaine distributor, receiving supplies of cocaine from Jose and Natalie Mendoza, converting it to crack cocaine, and distributing it to customers, including an undercover agent posing as a lower-level drug trafficker.
Ryan Rodriguez’s girlfriend, Bridget Archuleta, is alleged to have participated in drug sales with Rodriguez. Ryan Rodriguez’s sister, Andrea Rodriguez, allegedly delivered drugs to customers on Ryan Rodriguez’s behalf.
Additionally, defendant Edvardo Carlson is alleged to have conducted drug transactions at Ryan Rodriguez’s direction.
The defendants communicated extensively by telephone and text message about their drug trafficking business. According to court records, Jose Mendoza and Natalie Mendoza also laundered proceeds from their drug trafficking by making large cash payments on auto loans and large cash deposits into accounts at credit unions.
Summary of the Charges
- Count 1 - charges all six defendants with conspiracy to distribute cocaine base. The maximum penalty on conviction varies for each defendant.
- Counts 2, 5, 7, 9 and 11 - charge certain defendants with use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense. The maximum penalty on conviction is up to four years in prison.
- Count 3 - charges certain defendants with distribution of cocaine base. The maximum penalty on conviction is up to 20 years in prison.
- Counts 4, 6, 8, and 10 - charge certain defendants with distribution of 28 grams or more of cocaine base. The maximum penalty on conviction is from five to 40 years in prison.
- Count 12 - charges certain defendants with possession with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base. The maximum penalty on conviction is from 10 years to life in prison.
Charges Against Defendants
All six defendants were arrested Thursday and remain in custody pending a detention hearing set for Monday, except for Archuleta whose hearing is set for Friday.
- Jose Mendoza - Counts 1, 2, 9, 10, 11 and 12.
- Natalie Mendoza - Counts 1, 2, 5, 7, 9, 10 and 12.
- Ryan Rodriguez - all 12 counts.
- Andrea Rodriguez - Counts 1 and 3.
- Edvardo Carlson - Counts 1, 6, 7 and 8.
- Bridget Archuleta - Counts 1, 4, 11 and 12. His detention hearing is set for Friday.
An indictment is only an accusation. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter Eicker and Matthew Nelson are prosecuting the case as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, a nationwide 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.