Española Valley, NM - Three alleged members of a Mexican drug cartel were arrested last week by a multi-agency narcotics task force in Española and Chamita.
Joaquin Cifuentes-Santiago, whose age has not been released, Jose Guerra-Mariscal, 31, and Martin Macias-Gonzalez, 21, were all arrested Nov. 17 and charged with trafficking of a controlled substance, according to Region III multi-agency drug task force Lt. Juan Martinez. They are members of a Nayarit, Mexico-based drug cartel, Martinez said.
Region III has been investigating the three men since January, Martinez said. According to an affidavit for a search warrant, a confidential informant contacted agents Aug. 8 with information that Cifuentes-Santiago told him he was “back in operation, dealing in heroin.”
Cifuentes-Santiago had returned from Mexico, where he was when another member of the cartel, Juan Caballero “Chato” Candelaria (also known as Norman Fabian-Huerta), was arrested June 30 in La Cienega. According to the affidavit, after Chato’s arrest, Cifuentes-Santiago took his place in the organization.
Region III agents orchestrated four undercover buys using the confidential informant. The first one was Sept. 11 and the final one was Nov. 13. Over that time period, the informant bought $1,000 worth of heroin, or 14 grams, according to the affidavit. During that period, agents noted that Cifuentes-Santiago was changing his location every few months and receiving deliveries from multiple cars. His most recent residence was an Española house on Paseo Don Juan, which was searched the night of Nov. 17, Martinez said.
When agents went to execute the search, they found one and a half ounces of heroin, $10,000 and a pistol, Martinez said. Cifuentes-Santiago was at the house, along with Jose Guerra-Mariscal. Agents received consent to search Guerra-Mariscal’s Chamita home, where they recovered eight ounces of heroin and two pistols, Martinez said.
Guerra-Mariscal’s girlfriend and her small child were taken in to investigative detention, cleared of involvement and released, Martinez said.
A third suspect, Macias-Gonzalez, was trying to make a delivery from Cifuentes-Santiago, Martinez said. Three ounces of heroin were found in his Oldsmobile Alero, Martinez said. Martinez wouldn’t give details about where the contraband was found in each house, except to say it was well-hidden. The pistols were run through a national crime database and didn’t come back as stolen, but it’s not legal for illegal immigrants to possess weapons.
All of the suspects refused to make any disclosures about whom they were working for, Martinez said. Guerra-Mariscal and Macias-Gonzales are being held at Santa Fe County Jail on no bond because they are being held under an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detainer, according to Martinez and the Jail web site. Cifuentes-Santiago is in federal custody because a federal warrant was issued for his arrest in June.
Agents arrested an unrelated alleged drug-dealer Nov. 19 in Chimayó, Martinez said.
Jose Mario Trujillo, 23, was arrested for trafficking a controlled substance and possession of marijuana after agents found three ounces of cocaine and 12 ounces of marijuana at his Rio Arriba County Road 94D home, Martinez said.
He was booked on trafficking cocaine and possession of marijuana and is being held at Santa Fe County Jail on $50,000 bond.