Rene Cruz-Vargas, a member of the drug trafficking organization allegedly led by 47-year-old Mexican national Joel Ibarra-Torres, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Tuesday for his role in distributing cocaine in Doña Ana County. 41-year-old Cruz-Vargas will be deported after completing his prison sentence.
Cruz-Vargas was arrested in September 2016, after being named in an 18-count indictment which was the result of a six-month investigation part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) program. This program is a joint operation conducted by the Las Cruces office of the DEA, the U.S. Border Patrol and the FBI.
The indictment charged Ibarra-Torres and seven co-conspirators, including several members of Ibarra-Torres’ family, with participating in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy that existed from at least March 2016 until September 2016. It also charged certain of the defendants with substantive cocaine trafficking offenses and with using telephones to facilitate their drug trafficking activities.
Prosecutors allege Ibarra-Torres and two of his co-defendants participated in an international money laundering conspiracy. The indictment included forfeiture provisions that seek the forfeiture of at least $31,620, constituting proceeds of the defendants’ criminal activities, to the United States.
On June 22, 2017, Cruz-Vargas admitted that he traveled from in El Paso, Texas, to deliver five ¼ kilogram packages of cocaine to 26-year-old co-defendant Juan Velazquez in Las Cruces. He also admitted delivering six ¼ kilogram packages of cocaine to Velazquez on August 25, 2016.
Seven of Cruz-Vargas’ codefendants have entered guilty pleas and three have been sentenced. The alleged boss of the organization, Ibarra-Torres, has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.
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