Albuquerque, NM - Police said they arrested two gang leaders during a South Valley raid. The alleged leader of the South Valley Los Padillas gang, Jerry Padilla Jr, 42, and his 25-year-old son are being held without bond until a preliminary hearing Monday in federal court.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Schnieder ordered Padilla Jr. and Jerry Padilla III to be held in a federal holding facility over the weekend while they work out arrangements for legal representation.
The elder Padilla is charged with three counts of distributing cocaine, and his son is charged with one count.
The federal charges stem from alleged undercover drug purchases made last spring, according to criminal complaints filed in federal court.
Federal search warrants served by the FBI, Albuquerque police and New Mexico State Police on the South Valley locations remain sealed. Police said they arrested two gang leaders during a South Valley raid. FBI agents are calling the raid a disruption on a huge criminal enterprise.
FBI special agent Darrin Jones said, "As far as size goes and the number of members it wasn't a particularly large group in that regard - although I will say the volume in drugs and money that they were trafficking is substantial."
Simultaneous early morning raids targeted adjacent homes at 7201 Isleta Boulevard SW and around the corner at 2121 Celeste Road SW. Raiders from the FBI Safe Street Task Force arrived at the homes bearing search warrants and brought with them a backhoe. The FBI reported illegal drugs and more than $440,000 in cash were found buried in both locations on the South Valley properties. According to the FBI, both properties were occupied and there could be more arrests in the near future.
Amanda Brown, a neighbor, was startled when she woke up to helicopters flying above her home. She went outside and saw a SWAT team surrounding the vacant Los Padillas Paint and Body shop and the property next to that.
The FBI isn't finished with the notorious South Valley "Los Padillas" gang— the investigation continues after the arrests of two accused gang leaders. The FBI says more arrests are possible as agents and local cops continue to break up the family-run gang, and its criminal network.
Police say the gang has operated in the South Valley and beyond for many years, smuggling heroin, cocaine and marijuana.
"It has taken us longer with this particular group because of their notorious reputation for violence and intimidation - perhaps a little harder to get the sources of intelligence we needed to bring this group in," Jones said.
The FBI investigation is part of the Safe Streets Task Force that includes state and local cops. The probe started more than a year ago, and continues to go on.
Padilla Jr. was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison in 1994 for heading the Padilla drug organization, according to federal court records.
Several family members, including younger brother Jeffrey, have been described by law enforcement as heading Los Padillas, a street gang known for intimidation and violence in controlling narcotics distribution networks.
Jeffrey is serving state prison sentences for two homicides, but Jerry Padilla III doesn't appear to have had any major problems with the law. Criminal court records checks show this is his first felony charge in New Mexico.
The latest charges stem from a series of undercover drug purchases from Padilla Jr. made by a "confidential human source" in the presence of an Albuquerque police detective on March 6 and 11 of this year.
During a third drug transaction March 19, Padilla Jr. told the "source" to go to his son's house to buy the cocaine where Padilla III handed over a package with 131 grams of cocaine.
Each count carries a potential 20 year sentence.
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