ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Alexander MM Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, announced that Richard Orlinski “Sugar” Sanchez, 44, of Dexter, New Mexico, was sentenced to 23 years in prison on October 12.

On August 26, 2021, Sanchez pleaded guilty to: one count of conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine; one count of attempted possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine; four counts of distribution of 50 grams and more of methamphetamine; 25 counts of using a means of communication to facilitate the commission of a crime related to drug trafficking; one count of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine, aiding and abetting; a leader distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, aiding and abetting; a leader distributing 50 grams or more of a methamphetamine-containing mixture and substance, aiding and abetting; a leader in the distribution of a mixture and a substance containing methamphetamine, aiding and abetting; two counts of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine, aiding and abetting; one count of causing a financial institution to fail to file a report; one count of money laundering conspiracy; one count of money laundering, aiding and abetting; a leader distributing 500 grams or more of a methamphetamine-containing mixture and substance, aiding and abetting; one count of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, aiding and abetting; one count of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition; and one count of use and possession of a firearm during and in connection with a crime of drug trafficking, and possession of a firearm in pursuit of such a crime.

In his plea agreement, Sanchez admitted that between February and August 2020, he conspired with others to distribute methamphetamine in Roswell, New Mexico, and launder the proceeds of their drug trafficking activity. Sanchez admitted receiving meth shipments, arranging meth sales, delivering meth, and selling meth. Sanchez has at times used phones to arrange the sale or delivery of methamphetamine, in violation of federal law.

Sanchez admitted he had committed money laundering by using proceeds from the drug trade as a down payment to buy a Yukon Denali, but had the paperwork for the purchase in his mother’s name to avoid scrutiny because he had no legitimate source of income. Sanchez also had a dealership employee falsify the purchase documents so the dealership would not have to file a legally required report showing that Sanchez had provided the dealership with more than $10,000.

On August 10, 2020, Sanchez fled from law enforcement after hiding a bag of dog food filled with 11,818 net kilograms of pure methamphetamine. As he fled, Sanchez threw an additional 86.9 grams of pure methamphetamine, a gun and a loaded magazine out of his vehicle, while he was still in possession of another loaded gun and 9 $188 in cash. At that time, Sanchez was an already convicted felon and could not legally possess firearms or ammunition.

Upon his release from prison, Sanchez will be subject to five years of probation.

Co-defendant Ignacio “Nacho” Chavez was sentenced Aug. 30 to 14 years in prison followed by five years of probation. Juan “Moe” Florez was sentenced on May 26 to 13 years in prison followed by five years of probation. Antonio Acosta was sentenced on August 31 to 15 years in prison followed by five years of probation. Randy Reid was sentenced on July 19 to five years and 10 months in prison followed by five years of probation. Naomi Najar was sentenced on August 19, 2021 to seven years in prison followed by four years of probation. John Michael “Mike” Esquibel was sentenced on August 31 to five years in prison followed by five years of probation. Richard Ortega was sentenced on August 31 to three years in prison followed by two years of probation. Gordon Moss was sentenced on April 27 to three years and 10 months in prison followed by three years of probation. Ruben Morones was sentenced on May 26 to 10 years and one month in prison followed by five years of probation. John Lopez was sentenced on November 21, 2021 to 10 years in prison followed by five years of probation. Melissa Medina was sentenced on June 16 to two years of probation. Krystyna Sanchez was sentenced on August 31 to two years of probation.

Juan Silvas pleaded guilty on August 10, 2021 to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and remains in custody pending sentencing.

This investigation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OECDTF) initiative, which provides for the creation of permanent multi-agency teams that work side-by-side in one location. This co-located model allows agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the largest drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations.

The investigation included agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, US Marshals Service, Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force, Pecos Valley Drug Task Force and IRS Criminal Investigation.

The Chaves County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Narcotics Task Force is comprised of investigators from the Roswell Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives, from the FBI and the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office. The HIDTA Pecos Valley Drug Task Force is made up of officers from the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, the Carlsbad Police Department, and the Artesia Police Department. Both are part of the New Mexico Region VI Drug Task Force HIDTA. HIDTA is a White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) program that provides assistance to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas considered critical trafficking regions in the United States and seeks to reduce drug trafficking and production by facilitating the coordination of law enforcement activities and the sharing of information.

The Las Cruces branch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico is pursuing this case.

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