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Felony charges were filed late last week against 31 individuals, including 20 residents of Eddy County, as the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force (PVDTF) wrapped up a four-month undercover operation.

The remaining 11 individuals charged are part of a group of Cuban nationals hailing from Albuquerque that was one of the major sources of methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin activity in Eddy County.

“Albuquerque is the hub right now,” Cmdr. James McCormick of the PVDTF said Saturday. “Cubans traditionally only dealt with cocaine and crack cocaine, but they have now expanded their horizons to include heroin and meth. And they have lots of it, and it’s cheap.”

Of the 11 Cubans charged, five have been arrested thus far:

• Ivan Mustelier-Sanchez, 44, charged with trafficking a controlled substance, to wit: crack cocaine

• Esker Gordon-Leblanch, 43, cocaine trafficking

• Esneudis Bell-Salazar, 44, cocaine trafficking

• Rogelio Ibanez-Diaz, 52, crack cocaine trafficking

• Ramces Delgado-Averhoff, 41, cocaine trafficking

All were arrested on felony charges through the State of New Mexico. Three of the Cuban nationals reside in Eddy County, McCormick says, while the others were travelling from Albuquerque, staying several days locally and then returning.

Ten residents of Eddy County involved in the trafficking ring have also been arrested to date:

• Lori Kirkpatrick, 34, charged with trafficking a controlled substance, to wit: methamphetamine

• Brian Laxson, 36, possession of a controlled substance, to wit: meth

• James Patterson, 32, possession of meth

• David Spillman, 64, possession of meth

• Mark Torrez, 51, possession of meth

• Eliseo Catano, 46, meth trafficking

• Tina Derrington, 47, meth trafficking

• Gary Campbell, 34, meth trafficking

• Adrian Cumpian, 31, possession of drug paraphernalia to cultivate

• Reynaldo Green, 39, meth trafficking

Green was arrested on federal trafficking charges through the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the remaining individuals on state charges.

Six Cuban nationals currently remain at large, including:

• Armando Pozo, 64, wanted on DEA federal charges of meth trafficking

• Francisco Utrrutia, 49, DEA federal charges of meth trafficking

• Alfredo Delgado-Garcia, 53, distribution of an imitation controlled substance

• Jorge Riancho, 38, meth and heroin trafficking

• Yunielki Cadet-Ramont, 33, crack cocaine trafficking

• Clarissa Carbajal, 29, meth trafficking

Ten Eddy County residents are also still wanted:

• Robert Ponce, 41, meth trafficking

• James VanWinkle, 33, possession of meth

• Andrew Bedio, 26, meth trafficking

• Yvette Lara, 37, meth trafficking

• Angela Bonilla, 30, possession of meth

• Sulma Sifuentes, 30, possession of meth

• David Alvarez, 32, crack cocaine trafficking

• Eric Askew, 42, possession of meth

• Jeremiah Barnes, 36, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) federal charges of felon in possession of a firearm

• Jacob Martinez, 32, ATF federal charges of felon in possession of a firearm

Photos and additional information on the 16 fugitives will be posted Monday on the PVDTF Facebook page, and anyone with information as to their whereabouts is urged to contact the PVDTF through private messaging or the email link on its Facebook page or at 575-887-5194 during business hours, or Crime Stoppers of Eddy County at 575-887-1888; via cityofcarlsbadnm.com/tipsoft.cfm; or by texting the tip plus code word StopACrime to 274637.

McCormick says once all suspects have been arrested, prosecuted and sentenced, “the impact on trafficking and associated crimes will be noticeable in the communities of Carlsbad, Artesia and Loving.”

He says due to the recent reestablishment of relations between the United States and Cuba, the Cuban nationals – considered “criminal aliens” – should also be subject to deportation by the time their sentences are served.

The PVDTF is comprised of officers from the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office and the Artesia and Carlsbad Police Departments, and is part of the HIDTA Region VI Drug Task Force.

McCormick praised the efforts of the PVDTF agents as well as their colleagues with the associated local and federal agencies.

“This was a collaborative effort,” McCormick said. “We had uniform and detective assistance from all local agencies plus the DEA and ATF, and we certainly appreciate everybody’s assistance.”