Local man convicted of drug trafficking following HSI investigation
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Columbus, New Mexico, man was convicted June 8, of smuggling, possessing, and distributing methamphetamine. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated the case with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Sergio Ruiz, 57, was convicted by a federal grand jury on one count each of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams and more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute 500 grams and more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine, and importation of 500 grams and more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine into the United States.
Ruiz will remain in custody pending sentencing, which has not been scheduled.
On March 23, a federal grand jury indicted Ruiz. According to the indictment and other court records, on April 28, 2021, Ruiz attempted to cross into the United States at the Columbus port of entry, coming from Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico. Ruiz, a regular crosser at Columbus, was carrying a large amount of cinder blocks and two 55-gallon drums and was directed to the secondary inspection area. A scan revealed an anomaly in the spare tire, prompting inspection by a CBP canine unit that resulted in a positive alert.
CBP officers removed and inspected the spare tire. Inside the tire inspectors found five packages containing a substance that tested positive for methamphetamine. The total weight of the five packages was 20.8 kilograms (45.76 pounds).
Ruiz faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison. Assistant United States Attorneys Joni Autrey Stahl and Randy M. Castellano are prosecuting the case.
HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and 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 over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.