Federal agents recovered up to $4 million in bulk cash, hand grenades and more than a million Fentanyl pills during one of 16 predawn raids Thursday morning in the South Valley and elsewhere in the city, according to federal records unsealed this morning in federal court in Albuquerque.
The simultaneous searches by officers from more than a dozen federal, state and local agencies on Thursday were linked to a new FBI led investigation of an “intergang conspiracy” to commit murder in aid of racketeering and the distribution of controlled substances in New Mexico and elsewhere, wrote lead FBI case agent Bryan Acee, in a sworn 104-page search warrant affidavit.
The motherlode of the property seized came from a residence in the 1400 block of Atrisco Drive SW where Jesse Young, aka “Lobo,” was found and arrested, records show. Young is a suspected member of the Sureños, a California based street gang under control of the Mexican Mafia prison gang, the affidavit stated. It wasn’t immediately clear what charges he is facing, or whether he has a defense attorney.
At the residence, FBI and DEA agents also recovered 142 pounds of methamphetamine, 28 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, seven ballistic vests, marijuana, suboxone, a black Corvette, a 4 x 4 truck, a 4 wheeler and a motorcycle, according to a return filed with the search warrant records.
Those records show investigators believe the Sureños in New Mexico have now teamed up with the ultra-violent Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico prison gang, which has been crippled in recent years by a massive federal criminal racketeering prosecution led by the FBI in Albuquerque and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Las Cruces.
The Sureños are alleged to be aiding SNM members, some now incarcerated in federal prison, to better organize and/or broker the sales of huge amounts of fentanyl and methamphetamine sales within the various Hispanic street gangs in Albuquerque, the affidavit states. Meanwhile, the SNM appears to be outsourcing to the Sureños the job of killing those former SNM members who have cooperated in the federal government’s investigation.
The rise of the Sureño gang in drug trafficking and other criminal activity in Albuquerque comes after more than 160 of the SNM’s members and associates have been arrested, most on federal racketeering, drug or firearms violations over the past seven years of the FBI operation. One dozen SNM members, including the leader of the gang, have been sentenced to life in federal prison for committing violent crimes in aid of furthering the gang’s enterprise and influence. Dozens of SNM members opted to leave the gang and work with the government’s investigation.
The number of Sureños has increased in Albuquerque in recent years, with those being released from federal prison choosing to settle in New Mexico rather than return to California, the affidavit states.
One confidential informant was quoted as saying, “A lot of California Sureños were not returning to California due to tougher laws there, the cost of living, and the fact that New Mexico was `an easy place to live…and be us’ (Sureños).”