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Marcos A. Martinez, 31, of Roswell, pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon in in Las Cruces to federal methamphetamine trafficking and firearms charges filed as the result of a multi-agency investigation into a criminal organization trafficking large quantities of meth and firearms in Southeast New Mexico.

The investigation, which was initiated by the DEA, ATF and the HIDTA Region VI Pecos Valley Drug Task Force in spring 2017, initially targeted a meth trafficking organization supplied by Martinez and Daniel P. Bruton, 39, of Artesia.

The investigative team quickly expanded to include HSI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Border Patrol, the New Mexico State Police, the Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force, and the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, and the investigative targets expanded to include other alleged drug traffickers in Eddy and Chaves counties.

During the investigation, law enforcement authorities seized more than 2.5 kilograms of meth and 44 firearms.

Martinez, Bruton and eight co-defendants were charged in a 34-count indictment filed Oct. 3, 2017. The indictment alleged Martinez, Bruton and their co-defendants conspired to violate the federal narcotics trafficking and firearms laws from May 2017 through October 2017 in Eddy and Chaves counties, and elsewhere in New Mexico.

The indictment includes 55 overt acts that discussed the conspiracy’s operations, including the quantities of meth, which ranged from multiple ounces to 5 pounds, allegedly distributed by the defendants on a routine basis. It also describes the firearms, including assault rifles, that allegedly were to be smuggled into Mexico, used by the defendants in relation to their drug trafficking activities.

During yesterday’s proceedings, Martinez pleaded guilty to all charges against him, including a meth trafficking conspiracy count, four counts of using a communication facility in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes, two counts of possessing meth with intent to distribute, one count of distributing meth, and one count of smuggling goods from the United States.

In entering the guilty plea, he admitted that on numerous occasions between May 2017 and September 2017, he conspired with his co-defendants to distribute more than 2,126.98 grams of meth in Eddy County and elsewhere. Martinez also admitted that in October 2017, he conspired with another individual to provide firearms to be illegally smuggled from the U.S. to Mexico; the firearms were seized from him, however, by police during a traffic stop while he was traveling from Roswell to Albuquerque. Had the firearms not been seized, it was Martinez’s intention to take the firearms to California to be illegally exported to Mexico.

At sentencing, Martinez faces a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. Martinez has been in custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

Four of Martinez’s co-defendants have also entered guilty pleas: Chelcy A. Vasquez, 26, of Dexter, pleaded guilty Feb. 5; Erick L. Miranda-Santos, 22, of Artesia, pleaded guilty April 5; and Isela Hernandez, 26, of Roswell pleaded guilty April 16. Their sentencing hearings have yet to be scheduled. Kenneth R. Dickerson, 56, of Carlsbad, pleaded guilty Feb. 20 and is currently scheduled for sentencing this month.

The remaining five co-defendants have entered pleas of not guilty to the charges against them.