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For Immediate Release

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July 28, 2010 DUSM James Badway, District of New Mexico (505) 462-2344
U.S. Marshals Arrest Alleged Member of Drug Cartel Ring
Albuquerque, NM – On July 27, 2010, United States Marshals, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Rio Rancho Police Department collaborated to bring down a stolen vehicle ring run by Mexican drug cartel member Hector Varela. Varela was wanted by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Department on charges of transferring or receiving a stolen vehicle and by the New Mexico State Police on charges of fraud.

Members of the U.S. Marshal Southwest Investigative Fugitive Team (SWIFT) Task Force developed leads into Varela’s whereabouts and set up surveillance on the fugitive’s neighborhood. Deputy Marshals learned through their investigation that Varela was driving around town in a stolen Cadillac Escalade. Marshals observed a vehicle leave the residence that matched the description of the stolen vehicle Varela was supposed to be driving. Varela was spotted driving the vehicle and Deputies immediately stopped the vehicle and arrested Varela. Varela presented a fake Mexican National identification card with the name Cesar Traviso Varela. ICE agents confirmed the identification was fraudulent. The Cadillac Escalade Varela was driving was registered through the state of Arizona. Detectives from the Albuquerque Police Department Auto Theft Unit were called to the scene and assisted with a vehicle identification number inspection. Through their investigation Detectives were able to determine the vehicle was stolen 2 weeks prior in Albuquerque and that the vehicle identification numbers (v.i.n.) had been professionally altered. In the 2 weeks the vehicle was reported stolen, it was painted, the v.i.n. numbers were professionally altered, and the vehicle was registered in the state of Arizona. Detectives were able to determine that the professional v.i.n. replacement was consistent with what the Mexican drug cartels have been using in this area. U.S. Marshal Gorden Eden said “the concentrated effort of law enforcement agencies battling drug cartels along the southwest border has led to increased investigations and apprehensions of violent fugitives.” Varela was booked in to the Sandoval County Detention Center.

Annually, investigations carried out by the U.S. Marshals result in the apprehension of approximately 34,000 federal fugitives. More federal fugitives are arrested by Marshals than all other federal agencies combined.

The Southwest Investigative Fugitive Team (SWIFT) is comprised of law enforcement officers from New Mexico State Police, New Mexico Department of Corrections, Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, Las Cruces Police Department, Albuquerque Police Department, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, Rio Rancho Police Department, Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, Santa Fe Police Department, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office. The task force objective is to seek out and arrest all Violent Offenders. Last year, U.S. Marshals Task Forces arrested more than 27,000 state and local fugitives on felony charges.

Additional information about the U.S. Marshals can be found at http://www.usmarshals.gov.