HSI participates in arrest of 12 alleged drug, firearms traffickers in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Twelve alleged drug and firearms traffickers were arrested on Aug. 1 in a coordinated, multiagency enforcement operation that included Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Carlsbad, New Mexico.
A federal grand jury returned seven indictments on April 19 and July 19, and a criminal complaint was issued on Aug. 1 as part of the investigation.
The DEA, HSI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force led the investigation, with enforcement assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service, Carlsbad Police Department, Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, Roswell Police Department, Chaves County Metro Drug Task Force, DEA’s Aviation Division and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The New Mexico Air National Guard’s Air Unit, Artesia Police Department and CBP’s Air Unit also provided support.
According to the indictments and other court records, in February 2022, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force received information regarding individuals who were trafficking drugs in southeastern New Mexico. Through diligent and painstaking investigation, agents identified a drug trafficking organization operating out of Eddy County, New Mexico, that was distributing methamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl in Carlsbad.
As a result of the year-long investigation, a federal grand jury issued indictments against 16 defendants for drug and firearms trafficking charges.
Jesus Daniel Sonora-Gonzalez, 29, of Carlsbad, Guerrero Muro, 33, of Midland, Texas, and Marco Antonio Torres-Vivas, 40, of Carlsbad were charged on April 19 with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances including 50 grams and more of methamphetamine and 500 grams and more of fentanyl, nine counts of distribution of fentanyl and methamphetamine, and one count of attempt to distribute 400 grams and more of fentanyl. If convicted, both men face up to life in prison.
Damon Michael Johnsey, 28, and Kelly Lamar Burke, 31, both of Carlsbad, were charged under separate indictments on July 19 with possession with intent to distribute 40 grams and more of fentanyl, using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime and being a felon in possession a firearm and ammunition. Johnsey was previously convicted of possession of a controlled substance. Burke was previously convicted of child abuse and possession of a controlled substance. If convicted, both men face up to life in prison.
Kinny Gonzalez, 29; his sister Kassandra Lee Perales, 32; her boyfriend Carlos Michael Venegas, Jr., 24; Amber Kathleen Owen, 50; Brian Kain Purdy aka “Guero,” 41; Sabino Alfonso Maldonado aka “Flaco,” 31; Jared Michael Moore aka “Ghost,” 42, all of Carlsbad, and Jesus Alonso Cerezo-Espidio aka “Pitufo,” 50, of Mexico, were charged on July 19 with conspiracy to distribute cocaine; possession with intent to distribute cocaine, 400 grams and more of fentanyl, 50 grams and more of methamphetamine, and 5 grams and more of methamphetamine; distribution of 400 grams and more of fentanyl and 50 grams and more of methamphetamine, smuggling goods from the United States and conspiracy thereto; attempt to smuggle a firearm and ammunition out of the United States to promote a drug trafficking crimes; attempt to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams and more of methamphetamine and 500 grams and more of cocaine; and using and carrying a firearm during and relation to a drug trafficking crime. If convicted, Gonzalez, Perales, Venegas, Owen, and Cerezo-Espidio face up to life in prison. If convicted, Moore faces up to 20 years in prison. If convicted, Purdy and Maldonado each face up to 10 years in prison.
Manuel Pineda Montoya, 43, of Carlsbad, was charged on July 19 with possession with intent to distribute 400 grams and more of fentanyl, 50 grams and more of methamphetamine, and 40 grams and more of fentanyl; using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime; and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. If convicted, Montoya faces up to life in prison.
Silvester Cruz Rueda II, 44, and Jaycelyn Amberly Marrujo, 22, both of Carlsbad, were charged on July 19 with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl as well as possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl. Rueda II also was charged with using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. If convicted, Rueda II faces up to life in prison, and Marrujo faces up to 20 years in prison.
David Kirk Haynes, 55, was charged on July 19 with possession with intent to distribute 400 grams and more of fentanyl. If convicted, Haynes faces up to life in prison. Haynes is a fugitive and has not yet been arrested.
Gonzalez, Owen, Purdy, Maldonado, Moore, Rueda II, Marrujo, Johnsey, and Burke were arrested in Carlsbad on Aug. 1. Perales and Venegas, Jr. were arrested on Aug. 1 in North Dakota.
Freddie Trevino, 48, was arrested in Carlsbad on Aug. 1, and charged by criminal complaint with possession with intent to distribute 50 grams and more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. If convicted, Trevino faces up to life in prison.
During the arrests on Aug. 1, agents executed four search warrants in Carlsbad and seized methamphetamine, cocaine, firearms and money. To date, agents have seized approximately 56 kilograms of methamphetamine, four kilograms of cocaine, four kilograms of fentanyl, 31 firearms and $75,000 from the drug trafficking organization.
This investigation was conducted as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. It identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks. Visit the OCDETF Program web page for additional information.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Renee L. Camacho and Devon Aragon-Martinez are handling this case.
The charges contained in an indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.