ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal judge Monday sentenced a heroin trafficker to 57 months in federal prison, following an investigation by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Steven Michael Carrasco, 36, a member of a prison gang, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of a felon in possession of a firearm, a felon in possession of ammunition, and possession with intent to distribute heroin.
U.S. District Judge C. LeRoy Hansen also sentenced Carrasco to three years of supervised release.
HSI special agents assigned to the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) in Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department began this investigation a year ago.
On April 17, 2012, HSI special agents and Albuquerque police officers executed a search warrant at a local motel after buying heroin from Carrasco as part of an undercover investigation.
While executing the search warrant, HSI special agents discovered a loaded Springfield Armory .40-caliber handgun along with 50 additional rounds of ammunition. They also found 7.4 grams of crack cocaine, 8.3 grams of heroin and 8.6 grams of marijuana.
According to court documents, before moving to New Mexico, Carrasco lived in Texas. He also has an extensive drug-related criminal history in Texas, New Mexico, Indiana and Utah.
According to the arrest warrant, Carrasco told authorities that he bought the .40-caliber handgun from his heroin supplier using profits from his heroin sales.
Dennis A. Ulrich, special agent in charge for HSI in El Paso, Texas, said HSI's partnerships with the Albuquerque Police Department and other law enforcement agencies are a force multiplier.
"This is one of many cases that illustrates the positive work HSI routinely accomplishes by partnering with other law enforcement agencies," he said. "These joint investigations help ensure the safety of New Mexico citizens." Ulrich oversees HSI operations in west Texas and the state of New Mexico.
BEST is an ICE-led initiative that operates along the U.S.-Mexico border. Las Cruces BEST was formed in June 2009, and is one of 32 BEST units with locations around the U.S. and Mexico. HSI is charged with enforcing a wide array of immigration and customs laws, including those related to securing the border and combating criminal smuggling.