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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Dexter resident was sentenced to 23 years in prison after pleading guilty to various drug, weapons and money laundering charges, following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service, the Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force, the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force, and IRS participated in the case.

Richard Orlinski “Sugar” Sanchez, 44, was sentenced Oct. 12. On Aug. 26, 2021, he pleaded guilty to the following:

  • Conspiracy to distribute 50 grams and more of methamphetamine
  • Attempted possession with intent to distribute 50 grams and more of methamphetamine
  • Four counts of distribution of 50 grams and more of methamphetamine
  • 25 counts of use of a communication facility to further the commission of a drug trafficking crime
  • One count of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams and more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine, and aiding and abetting
  • Distribution of 50 grams and more of methamphetamine and aiding and abetting
  • Distribution of 50 grams and more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine and aiding and abetting
  • Distribution of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine and aiding and abetting
  • Two counts of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams and more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine and aiding and abetting
  • Causing a financial institution to fail to file a report
  • Money laundering conspiracy
  • Money laundering, and aiding and abetting
  • Distribution of 500 grams and more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine and aiding and abetting

Possession with intent to distribute 50 grams and more of methamphetamine, aiding and abetting.

Being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. Using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime and possessing a firearm in furtherance of such crime.

In his plea agreement, Sanchez admitted that between February and August of 2020, he conspired with others to distribute methamphetamine in Roswell, New Mexico, and launder the proceeds from their drug trafficking activity. Sanchez admitted to receiving shipments of methamphetamine, arranging sales of methamphetamine, delivering methamphetamine, and selling methamphetamine. Sanchez sometimes used telephones to arrange sales or delivery of methamphetamine, in violation of federal law.

Sanchez acknowledged that he had committed money laundering by using drug trafficking proceeds as a down payment to purchase a Yukon Denali but had the paperwork for the purchase in his mother’s name to avoid scrutiny as he had no legitimate source of income. Sanchez also asked an employee at the dealership to falsify the paperwork for the purchase so that the dealership would not have to file a legally required report showing that Sanchez had provided over $10,000 to the dealership.

On Aug. 10, 2020, Sanchez fled from law enforcement after hiding a dogfood bag filled with 11.818 net kilograms of pure methamphetamine. As he fled, Sanchez threw another 86.9 grams of pure methamphetamine, a gun, and a loaded magazine out of his vehicle, while still in possession of another loaded gun and $9,188. At that time, Sanchez was a previously convicted felon and could not legally possess firearms or ammunition.

Upon his release from prison, Sanchez will be subject to five years of supervised release.

Codefendant Ignacio “Nacho” Chavez was sentenced on Aug. 30 to 14 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Juan “Moe” Florez was sentenced on May 26 to 13 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Antonio Acosta was sentenced on Aug. 31 to 15 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Randy Reid was sentenced on July 19 to five years and 10 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

Naomi Najar was sentenced on Aug. 19, 2021, to seven years in prison followed by four years of supervised release. John Michael “Mike” Esquibel was sentenced on Aug. 31 to five years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Richard Ortega was sentenced on Aug. 31 to three years in prison followed by two years of supervised release. Gordon Moss was sentenced on April 27 to three years and 10 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Ruben Morones was sentenced on May 26 to 10 years and one month in prison followed by five years of supervised release. John Lopez was sentenced on Nov. 21, 2021, to 10 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Melissa Medina was sentenced on June 16 to two years of probation. Krystyna Sanchez was sentenced on Aug. 31 to two years of probation.

Juan Silvas pleaded guilty on Aug. 10, 2021, to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams and more of methamphetamine and remains in custody pending sentencing.

This investigation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations.

The Las Cruces branch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico is prosecuting this case.

For more news and information about HSI’s mission and efforts to keep communities safe from transnational criminal organizations, follow us on Twitter @HSIElPaso.

HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

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