LAS CRUCES, NM - The U.S. Department of Justice says Raymundo Munoz, 69, of Sunland Park, N.M., was sentenced today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to 72 months in prison for his conviction on heroin trafficking charges.
He will be on supervised release for four years after completing his prison sentence.
Munoz was the ringleader of a heroin trafficking organization operating out of Sunland Park, N.M., that obtained its heroin from Juan Francisco Rivera, 60, of El Paso, that was the target of a DEA-led investigation.
Ten members of the heroin trafficking ring were charged in July 2016, in a 30-count indictment with participation in a heroin trafficking conspiracy and a series of substantive heroin trafficking offenses.
The indictment charged all ten defendants with conspiring to distribute heroin in Doña Ana County and elsewhere between May 8, 2016 and July 12, 2016.
It also included 23 counts charging certain defendants with distributing heroin or possessing heroin with intent to distribute and six counts charging certain defendants with using communications devices (telephones) to facilitate heroin trafficking crimes.
According to the indictment, Rivera routinely supplied Muñoz with heroin, in quantities ranging from two to nine ounces, which was smuggled by couriers into the United States across the international border in El Paso.
Muñoz took the heroin to his Sunland Park residence where he distributed the drugs to others.
Members of the conspiracy used telephones to negotiate their heroin deals, arrange for heroin deliveries, and pay for the heroin.
On March 1, 2017, Munoz pled guilty to conspiracy and distribution of heroin.
In entering the guilty plea, Munoz admitted to conspiring with Rivera and others to distribute approximately 119 ounces of heroin between April and July 2016, using female body carriers who would cross heroin from Mexico into the United States to give to Rivera who would then give the heroin to Munoz.
Munoz also admitted that on dates from April 10, 2016, through July 11, 2016, he facilitated the sale and delivery of more than 64 grams of heroin to other individuals.
Munoz's plea agreement indicated that on July 11, 2016, Blanca Elisa Tovar, 42, of El Paso, Texas, smuggled seven ounces of heroin to the United States, intending to deliver the heroin to Rivera.
However, Tovar, Rivera and Munoz were arrested and agents subsequently seized approximately $52,304, several ounces of heroin and a firearm from Munoz's vehicle and residence.
The following defendants previously entered guilty pleas in the case:
- Carlos Diaz, 37, of El Paso, Texas, pled guilty on Jan. 24, 2017, and was sentenced on June 29, 2017, to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
- Sandra Francis Guzman, 53, of El Paso, Texas, pled guilty on March 21, 2017, and was sentenced on July 25, 2017, to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
- Alberto Lozano-Morales, 43, of Sunland Park, pled guilty on Dec. 6, 2016, and was sentenced on May 24, 2017 to time served followed by one year of supervised release.
- Blanca Elisa Tovar, 42, of El Paso, Texas, pled guilty on Dec. 13, 2016, and faces a sentence of 24 months in prison under the terms of her plea agreement.
- Juan Francisco Rivera pled guilty on Feb. 7, 2017, and faces a sentence of 108 months in prison under the terms of his plea agreement.
- Armando Daniel Marquez, 54 of Sunland Park, N.M., pled guilty on Feb. 23, 2017, and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years under the terms of his plea agreement.
- Eleodoro Sanchez, 62, of Canutillo, Texas, pled guilty on March 7, 2017, and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years under the terms of his plea agreement.
One of the two remaining co-defendants has entered a plea of not guilty to the charges in the indictment; the second has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.
Charges in indictments and criminal complaints are only accusations. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.