ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal jury Wednesday convicted an Arkansas woman for transporting methamphetamine and cocaine from California to Arkansas.
This case was investigated by U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Albuquerque Police Department.
Shelia Villegas, 47, of Manila, Arkansas, was found guilty Jan. 7 on methamphetamine and cocaine trafficking charges after a two-day trial.
Villegas was arrested April 29, 2014 following a criminal complaint alleging methamphetamine and cocaine trafficking charges. She subsequently was indicted in a two-count indictment charging her with possessing methamphetamine and cocaine with intent to distribute. The indictment alleged that Villegas committed the two offenses April 29, 2014 in Bernalillo County, New Mexico.
The trial for this case began Tuesday and concluded Wednesday afternoon when the jury returned a guilty verdict on both counts of the indictment. The evidence at trial established that on April 29, 2014, an Albuquerque Police Department officer conducted a routine traffic stop of Villegas for failure to maintain a single lane. After issuing her a citation, the officer asked and received Villegas’ consent to search her vehicle. The officer then deployed a narcotics canine on the vehicle. After the canine alerted to the presence of drugs, the officer notified HSI special agents assigned to the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST). HSI special agents responded to the scene and upon searching Villegas’ vehicle, found 19 bundles, 18 of which contained 20 pounds of methamphetamine, and one that contained more than 700 grams (1.54 pounds) of cocaine.
The evidence at trial included the police officer’s recording of his encounter with Villegas. In addition, an HSI special agent testified that Villegas made a post-arrest statement in which she acknowledged she was transporting drugs from California to Arkansas in exchange for $10,000 plus $500 in travel expenses.
The jury deliberated about two hours before returning its guilty verdict.
Villegas was remanded into federal custody after the jury returned its guilty verdict. She will remain in custody pending her sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Villegas faces a maximum statutory penalty of life imprisonment.