A federal grand jury Wednesday, December 12, 2012, returned a guilty verdict against a local resident on cocaine trafficking and immigration charges after a two day trial. The case was investigated by U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Godofredo Barraza-Flores, 32, and co-defendant Carlos Ramirez-Talamantes, 23, both Mexican nationals, were charged in July 2011 in a four-count indictment alleging a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and four cocaine-trafficking offenses. Ramirez-Talamantes was arrested July 22, 2011, and entered a guilty plea March 23.
Barraza-Flores has been in federal custody since his Aug. 30, 2011 arrest. On Sept. 5, 2012, Barraza-Flores was charged in a five-count superseding indictment with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, distributing cocaine and re-entry into the United States by a previously deported alien.
Barraza-Flores’ trial on the superseding indictment began Dec. 12. The evidence established that an undercover New Mexico State Police officer bought multi-ounce quantities of cocaine from Ramirez-Talamantes inAlbuquerqueon three occasions: (1) two ounces March 29, 2011, (2) three ounces April 6, 2011, and (3) five ounces May 3, 2011. Immediately before and after each of these three drug deals, surveillance officers observed Ramirez -Talamantes meet with Barraza-Flores.
When he was arrested May 17, 2011, Ramirez-Talamantes possessed nine ounces of cocaine that he intended to sell to the undercover officer, and which he said belonged to Barraza-Flores.
While Ramirez-Talamantes was being interviewed by officers, he received a telephone call from Barraza-Flores. The two talked about how Ramirez-Talamantes would deliver the money from the nine ounce cocaine deal to Barraza-Flores. Shortly thereafter, another man met with Ramirez-Talamantes at the location agreed upon by Barraza-Flores and Ramirez-Talamantes. When questioned by officers, the man said that Barraza-Flores had instructed him to collect a quantity of money from Ramirez-Talamantes.
The jury also learned that Barraza-Flores previously had been deported in February 2006, and had illegally re-entered the United States without obtaining authorization, which is a felony.
The jury deliberated about two and a half hours before returning a guilty verdict on all five counts of the superseding indictment.
Barraza-Flores remains in federal custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has not been scheduled. At sentencing, Barraza-Flores faces up to 20 years of imprisonment and a $1 million fine. He will be turned over to ICE and will be placed in removal proceedings after he completes his prison sentence.
On Aug. 16, 2012, Ramirez-Talamantes was sentenced to a 37-month term of imprisonment. He also will be deported after he completes his prison sentence.
The New Mexico State Police, the Region III Narcotics Task Force, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection also participated in the investigation.