ALBUQUERQUE – A Mexican national who was convicted Wednesday on heroin trafficking charges is facing up to life in prison when he is sentenced in U.S. District Court.
A jury found Miguel Bustamante-Conchas, 39, a Mexican national with legal permanent resident status in the United States, guilty on heroin trafficking charges after a six-day trial.
Bustamante-Conchas was one of seven men arrested in June 2013 on federal narcotics trafficking charges as a result of a 15-month multi-agency investigation targeting heroin traffickers operating out of Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights.
The area has experienced a growing, wide-spread heroin abuse problem among teens and young adults in recent years, according to the DEA.
More than 25 pounds of heroin were seized during the course of the investigation, officials said. The investigation was code-named “Balloon Fiesta” in reference to the multi-colored balloons that heroin often is packaged in for retail distribution, officials said.
Two indictments were filed as a result of the investigation. Bustamante-Conchas and four other men were charged in one indictment while two others were charged in a second indictment. The other six defendants entered guilty pleas to heroin trafficking charges.
Trial against Bustamante-Conchas began on July 30, 2014, officials said.
Initially, officials said he was being tried with conspiracy to distribute large quantities of heroin in Bernalillo County from Oct. 2012 to June 2013. He was also charged with aiding and abetting the possession of heroin with intent to distribute; and aiding and abetting the use of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, officials said.
On Aug. 4, 2014, the court dismissed the firearms The jury returned a verdict of guilty on two heroin trafficking charge.
The evidence at trial indicated the following:
- Bustamante-Conchas played a leadership role in a major heroin trafficking organization by managing the acquisition, storage and distribution of kilograms of heroin and overseeing the collection of cash proceeds from the sale of heroin.
- Bustamante-Conchas’ role in the drug trafficking organization was secured from wiretaps on telephones used by his subordinates, evidence seized during a law enforcement operation on June 14, 2013, and evidence seized on June 19, 2013.
- Evidence obtained on June 14, 2013, included three pounds of heroin, drug ledgers, numerous cellphones and narcotics paraphernalia, which were seized at the residences maintained as stash houses by Bustamante-Conchas and his co-conspirators.
- An additional 22 pounds of heroin were seized on June 19, 2013 from another of the organization’s stash houses.
Sentencing for Bustamante-Conchas has not yet been schedule. He is facing a sentence of not less than 10 years and not more than life in prison, officials said.