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  • Carlsbad Current-Argus

    Admitted Carlsbad fentanyl dealer gets 20 years after bringing drugs from Albuquerque

    By Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus,


    A Carlsbad man accused of trafficking fentanyl and methamphetamine from Albuquerque was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison as one of 12 people charges in a joint investigation last spring.

    Manuel Pineda Montoya, 44, was charged with possessing with intent to distribute 4 kilograms of fentanyl and about 7 kilograms of meth and distributing 186 grams and 1.5 kilograms of the drugs, respectively.

    In April and May of last year, a confidential source told police Montoya agreed to provide the drugs and traveled to Artesia to deliver meth and fentanyl and sold them out of his home in Carlsbad. Police said Montoya also drove to Albuquerque to get more drugs to sell in southeast New Mexico.

    Montoya was caught trafficking the drugs in Roswell on May 7, 2023 on the way from Albuquerque, read a criminal complaint, and law enforcement also found two handguns and about $12,000 in cash in the car. Montoya and three passengers were released in that incident to further the investigation.

    Three days later, police said reports indicated Montoya was headed back to Carlsbad from Albuquerque with large amounts of the drugs, and he was stopped upon entering Eddy County with one adult passenger in the car. Montoya and the passenger were again released by authorities.

    On May 15, 2023 officers again tracked Montoya bringing meth from Albuquerque on the way to Carlsbad and arrested him at a gas station in Carrizozo. He later confessed to trafficking the drugs on all three occasions.

    About 6,710 grams of meth were found in Montoya’s possession in the second two incidents, police said.

    U.S. District Judge Kenneth Gonzales dismissed two counts of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, and one count of illegal possession of a firearm contained in the indictment, via a plea deal. In exchange for the dismissal, Montoya pleaded guilty to two counts of possession with intent to distribute meth and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

    Following his term of incarceration, a total of 240 months, Montoya will be committed to five years of supervised probation.

    Last suspect pleads guilty in drug dealing ‘conspiracy’

    Another Carlsbad man Jesus Alonso Cerezo-Espidio pleaded guilty to a single count each of conspiracy to sell 5 grams of methamphetamine and 500 grams of cocaine in a separate federal investigation of a believed trafficking operation moving drugs between Carlsbad and El Paso.

    Cerezo-Espidio admitted, along with two others who recently pleaded guilty on similar charges Kassandra Lee Perales and Carlos Venegas Jr., that he took possession of an ice chest containing meth and cocaine and left it in the trunk of a car in an El Paso parking lot.

    Police seized the drugs before Perales and Venegas Jr. were able to get the ice chest and take it back to Carlsbad, finding 1,974 grams of cocaine and 501 grams of meth.

    Venegas and Perales previously pleaded guilty after police said they also attempted to sell meth and fentanyl in North Dakota but were stopped on their way north in Roswell.

    All three were part of an eight-person indictment filed last year by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for various gun and drug charges.

    At sentencing, Cerezo-Espidio faced between 5 and 40 years in prison. He was being held in custody ahead of sentencing.

    Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, or@AdrianHedden on the social media platform X.

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