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Roswell woman pleads guilty to meth trafficking

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Destiny Stephenson, 35, of Roswell, pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in Las Cruces to methamphetamine trafficking charges.

Stephenson is one of 41 individuals charged in September 2015 with drug trafficking offenses as a result of an eight-month, multi-agency investigation by the FBI, the DEA, Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force, Roswell Police Department, Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, and New Mexico State Police. Twenty-one of the defendants were charged with federal offenses and the remaining 20 with state crimes.

The investigation, which was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) program, initially targeted a drug trafficking organization (DTO) allegedly led by Joseph Ray Mendiola, 34, of Roswell. It later expanded to include drug traffickers who allegedly supplied methamphetamine to the Mendiola’s DTO and other drug traffickers operating in Chaves County. The OCDETF program combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations.

Sixteen of the 21 defendants facing federal charges were charged in a 24-count indictment filed Sept. 22, 2015. The remaining five federal defendants were charged in criminal complaints. The 20 state defendants were charged by criminal complaints.

During the course of the investigation, law enforcement officers executed 14 federal search warrants for 10 residences in Roswell, one residence in Dexter, and three vehicles. During the execution of those warrants, the officers seized approximately 5,600 grams of methamphetamine, $35,960 in cash, and multiple firearms, including two assault rifles. Five of the federal defendants, including Mendiola, were arrested July 31, 2015, the date on which the officers executed the 14 federal search warrants.

During Friday’s proceedings, Stephenson pleaded guilty to conspiracy and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. In entering the guilty plea, Stephenson admitted that between June 2015 and July 31, 2015, she conspired to distribute methamphetamine in Chaves County. Stephenson further admitted that on July 17, 2015, Chaves County Drug Task Force officers discovered 58.5 grams of methamphetamine in her vehicle which she intended to distribute.

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