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An Artesia man was sentenced this afternoon in federal court in Las Cruces to 168 months in prison for methamphetamine trafficking.

Rodrigo Ivan Cazares, 34, a legal permanent resident from Zamora, Michoacan, Mexico, who resides in Artesia, was sentenced on a conviction involving more than 4.5 kg (10 pounds) of pure meth. Cazares will be deported after serving his term of incarceration. He was also ordered to forfeit the $48,389 seized from him during the investigation that led to his conviction.

The sentence was announced today by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) El Paso Division, and Cmdr. James McCormick of the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force.

Martinez stated Cazares was prosecuted as part of the federal “worst of the worst” anti-violence initiative, under which the attorney’s office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s district attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement to target violent or repeat offenders primarily based on their prior felony convictions.

Although Cazares has no prior criminal convictions, Martinez said he was prosecuted under the initiative due to the significant quantities and purity of the meth he was trafficking, which demonstrated he posed a serious danger to the residents of Eddy County.

Cazares was arrested in October 2013 on a criminal complaint charging him with distribution of approximately 2.8 kg of meth to an undercover law enforcement officer on Oct. 15, 2013, in Eddy County. He was subsequently charged in a five-count indictment with distributing large quantities of meth on four occasions between August 2013 and October 2013, and possessing meth with the intent to distribute on Oct. 15, 2013.

On May 28, 2014, Cazares pleaded guilty to all five counts of the indictment, which included: distribution of one ounce of meth to a confidential source working with law enforcement on Aug. 15, 2013; distribution of eight ounces of meth to the confidential source on Sept. 9, 2013; distribution of five pounds of meth to the confidential source and an undercover law enforcement agent on Oct. 8, 2013; distribution of five pounds of meth to the undercover agent on Oct. 15, 2013; and possession of two ounces of meth and one ounce of cocaine on Oct. 15, 2013.

In entering his plea, Cazares also admitted the $48,389 in cash and two vehicles seized by agents on Oct. 15, 2013, were proceeds of his drug trafficking activities.

“This case is a perfect example of the mission and goals of the HIDTA program coming to fruition; local, state and federal agencies working together to remove the ‘worst of the worst’ criminals like Cazares from our community for as long as possible,” said McCormick. “The incarceration of Cazares and others involved in his criminal enterprise will have a direct impact on the residents of Eddy County, in a positive light. Basically, this is a win-win for not only the residents of Eddy County but for all New Mexicans.”

“Taking drug dealers like Cazares off the streets is DEA’s top priority, and our partnership with the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force demonstrates our ongoing commitment to investigating and prosecuting those who sell these dangerous and addictive drugs in our local communities,” said Glaspy.

The case was investigated by the Las Cruces Office of the DEA and the PVDTF, which is comprised of officers with the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, Artesia Police Department and Carlsbad Police Department, and is part of the HIDTA Region VI Drug Task Force.