ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Mexican drug cartels are using local, Albuquerque gangs to help distribute and sell deadly drugs like fentanyl. Those gangs are also at the center of the crime problem in the state. Now, the FBI is trying to target them.

Raul Bujanda, special agent in charge for Albuquerque’s FBI office, said the agency has recently split the Violent Crime and Gang Task Force into two different groups.

This recent shift allows each task force to be more specific in what it’s trying to target.

“As much as we thought these things are interconnected, and they are in many aspects, but they’re also independent of each other,” said the special agent.

The Violent Crime Task Force and the Violent Gang Task Force will still work alongside each other, but splitting them into two lets each group look at investigations from different angles.

Just last week the FBI, along with other local agencies, executed a search warrant at 51-year-old Leonard John Lucero’s home and storage unit in northwest Albuquerque. 

They recovered more than a $100,000 worth of stolen goods, more than 300 bottles of alcohol, dozens of guns, and thousands of rounds of ammo.

“This is the same exact group as the one that was responsible for the 1.1 million fentanyl seizures that we had just a couple months ago,” Bujanda explained

The feds said they know several gangs in New Mexico have created a hub here to traffic drugs from Mexican cartels – like the fentanyl bust in September that included the SNM prison gang, and they will continue to use these task forces to track them down.

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Bujanda continued, “It’s our job to go after the most violent offenders, and if this is what we’re going to come across, and it helps the city overall, if it helps our retail partners be able to restore some of the things that they have lost, then it’s a win for everyone.”

The FBI is still looking for Leonard John Lucero. He is facing federal firearm charges.