Feds reveal new details on extensive gang activity, murders in Albuquerque
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — On Friday, the FBI and federal prosecutors revealed new details on extensive gang activity in Albuquerque, including murders and trafficking millions of dollars in drugs in the city.
In a news conference and a federal court filing of more than 100 pages, prosecutors describe an ongoing seven-year investigation into multiple gangs, which has led to dozens of arrests and truckloads of drugs taken off the streets.
The information came one day after a massive FBI-led raid involving 16 search warrants targeting gang activity led to agents making five arrests and taking hundreds of pounds in drugs in Albuquerque.
On Friday, investigators revealed the main target of the recent raid, 40-year-old Jesse Young, who also goes by Lobo. He has 21 prior arrests in New Mexico and was on probation when agents took him peacefully early Thursday morning. He’s facing federal charges and decades in prison, the feds said.
From Lobo alone, the task force took a million fentanyl pills, which is more than 200 pounds of the deadly drug, and they seized more than 140 pounds of meth. Investigators said the drugs probably didn’t come from New Mexico, and they don’t know exactly where it all would have ended up.
Agents also took 37 guns from the home on Atrisco Drive and millions in cash.
“We hope, at least in the short run, that we see a reduction in crime,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda. “We want to make sure our communities are staying safe.”
Federal prosecutors said this was the largest single bust in quite a while in Albuquerque.
“This is the largest I have seen since I have worked with law enforcement,” U.S. Attorney Alexander Uballez said.
Many of the locations were in various South Valley neighborhoods. Special agent Bujanda said people living near these houses are grateful.
“They don’t have to fear anymore, walking their children to school,” he said. “We’re talking about distances that are less than a block long.”
Federal agents said the raid was a big hit to the two gangs they’re focusing on, gangs which they said have a decades-long history of murder, kidnapping and pumping millions of dollars of drugs into the city: the Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico, a prison gang abbreviated SNM, and the Sureños, Spanish for southerners, which started in southern California.
Federal court documents gave new insight into how they operate and what crimes members may have committed, including recent murders, and how extensive the operation is to combat them.
In the documents, federal prosecutors said there are hundreds of active gang members in Albuquerque and informants tell the FBI some have killed multiple people.
Gang members are “plotting to… murdering witnesses and informants.” They “bury evidence underground.” They use “stash houses” and “covert communications,” and they coordinate actions with members in prison.
The feds said this FBI-led investigation has been disrupting the gang’s activity over the last seven years, as hundreds of members in Albuquerque have been arrested and at least 11 local murders have been pinned on members. Plus, a plot to murder former state Secretary of Corrections Gregg Marcantel was thwarted in 2015.
Investigators say they’ve used 22 confidential informants, who are all members of these gangs. They led investigators to go after 13 men Thursday who are all either gang members or associates themselves.
Jesse Young, aka: “Lobo”
Thomas Jaramillo, aka: “Casper”
Edward Vallez, aka: “Dopey”
Joshua Lozoya, aka: “Griefo”
Acen Yaladez, aka: “Boogie”
Omar Manzanilla, aka: “Sapo”
Bernard Baca, aka: “Mad Dog”
Eric Harrison, aka: “Snoop”
David Chavez, aka: “Wacky”
Mario Chavez, aka: “Little Man”
Raymond Salas, aka: “Ray Ray”
Enrique Roybal, aka: “Sleepy”
Ernest Guerro, aka: “Ern Dog”
The feds have tied at least five local murders in the last two years to these gangs.
The most recent was Aug. 7 when someone shot and killed a fellow gang member in an apartment.
The feds think Young, aka Lobo, killed two brothers he believed were working with the feds, burning their bodies in a car on the West Mesa in 2012.
Many of these suspects came from California because “New Mexico was an easy place to live… and be us.” Informants say gang members have said the Land of Enchantment has looser laws and a lower cost of living compared to the Golden State.
The federal court documents show there’s now a partnership between SNM and the Sureños, as they are working together to try to kill informants. The efforts are described as coordinated, mutual interests that have strengthened both groups in the past few years.