Published: 2:00 pm, Mon. Jun. 6th, 2016Updated: 1:59 pm
Rolando Cantu, 40, of Hobbs, was sentenced Monday morning in federal court in Las Cruces to 151 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release for his conviction on a methamphetamine trafficking charge.
Cantu was one of five defendants charged as the result of an investigation primarily targeting a drug trafficking organization operating in Lea County, allegedly headed by co-defendant Leroy Castillo, 34, of Hobbs.
The investigation was led by the FBI and Lea County Drug Task Force (LCDTF) with assistance from the DEA and New Mexico State Police. It was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, a nationwide Department of Justice program that combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations.
Cantu was arrested in July 2014 and charged in a seven-count indictment filed in June 2014.
The indictment also charged co-defendants Castillo, Joe Padilla, 34, of Hobbs, Mario Flores, 30, of Artesia, and Anthony Pisana, 30, of Roswell.
Count 1 charged the four men with participation in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy from February 2014 through May 2014 in Lea County. Counts 2 and 3 charged certain defendants with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in Eddy and Lea Counties in March 2014, and Counts 4 through 7 charged certain defendants with using telephones to facilitate drug trafficking crimes in February, March and April 2016.
Cantu pleaded guilty March 24, 2015, to Count 3 of the indictment charging him with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. In his plea agreement, Cantu admitted that on March 8, 2014, law enforcement officers seized 76.2 grams of methamphetamine from inside a truck parked at his residence. Cantu further admitted that he intended to distribute the methamphetamine that was found inside the truck.
With the exception of Castillo, all defendants charged in this case have pleaded guilty. Castillo has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive. Individuals with information regarding the whereabouts of Castillo are asked to call the FBI at 505-622-6001. Charges in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.