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Nicolas Robert Muniz, 26, of Monahans, Texas, pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Las Cruces to violating federal drug trafficking and firearms laws under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Muniz was charged by criminal complaint June 5, 2017, after law enforcement officers seized approximately 504 grams of methamphetamine, 50 grams of marijuana, and firearms and ammunition from his vehicle following a routine traffic stop. During the traffic stop, Muniz allegedly acted suspicious and nervous, causing the officers to deploy a drug detection canine on the vehicle; the canine allegedly alerted the officers to the presence of controlled substances in the vehicle.

Muniz and his codefendant, Michael Dwain Samples, 26, also of Monahans, were subsequently charged in a six-count indictment Sept. 13, 2017, with conspiracy to distribute meth and possession of meth with intent to distribute. Both were also charged individually with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and possession of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

According to the indictment, the offenses took place May 16, 2017, in Lea County. Samples was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he was previously convicted of possession of a controlled substance. Muniz was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he was previously convicted of theft of property.

In entering the guilty plea, Muniz admitted that on May 16, 2017, he agreed to drive Samples from Monahans to Carlsbad to purchase approximately 469 grams of meth. Muniz further admitted there was a firearm loaded with several rounds of ammunition under Muniz’s seat in the vehicle he was driving.

At sentencing, Muniz faces a statutory minimum penalty of five years and a maximum of 40 years in federal prison, and a mandatory penalty of five years in federal prison which must be serviced consecutive to any other sentence imposed. Samples faces a statutory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison. Muniz and Samples remain in custody pending sentencing hearings which have yet to be scheduled.