Sunland Park woman gets prison for trafficking drugs, laundering money for Mexican gang

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EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — A New Mexico woman has been sentenced to prison for her role in a drug trafficking and international money laundering conspiracy.

Rosa De Santiago, 48, of Sunland Park, New Mexico, pleaded guilty on July 16, 2018, to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin, conspiracy to commit international money laundering, and possession of methamphetamine and heroin with intent to distribute, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

She is one of 22 defendants charged in a 44-count indictment that resulted from a 16-month Drug Enforcement Administration investigation into a Mexican drug trafficking organization that imported large quantities of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine from Mexico and distributed the drugs in New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Kentucky and Illinois.

According to court documents obtained by KTSM 9 News, De Santiago knowingly combined, conspired, agreed and acted independently with other defendants and other persons to launder money internationally and, on various occasions, intentionally possessed with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

The charges against De Santiago originated from the Albuquerque area. On Nov. 22, 2016, De Santiago and others allegedly were in possession of 50 grams of methamphetamine and more than a kilogram of a substance containing a detectable amount of heroin.

On Jan. 19, 2017, De Santiago and others were in possession of more than a kilogram of a substance containing a detectable amount of heroin.

On Feb. 1, 2017, De Santiago and other defendants “did knowingly and intentionally transport, transmit, and transfer and did attempt to transport, transmit, and transfer” cash tied to drug sales outside of the U.S.

On Feb. 18, 2017, De Santiago and other defendants were in possession of more than a kilogram of a substance containing a detectable amount of heroin.

De Santiago was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Thursday. Upon her release from prison, she will be subject to five years of supervised release.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, De Santiago is the last defendant in the indictment in custody to be sentenced. One defendant remains a fugitive.

A part of the investigation into this drug trafficking organization, law enforcement authorities seized approximately 30 kilograms of heroin, 64 kilograms of methamphetamine, 17 kilograms of cocaine, 20 kilograms of marijuana, 24 firearms, $102,000 in currency, and three vehicles.

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