ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Nearly a quarter-million fentanyl pills and more than $100,000 in cash is now in the hands of the FBI after an attempted traffic stop that ended with a crash in Albuquerque last week. One of the suspects in the crash is also now at the center of a continued federal investigation.
The crash happened last Thursday, February 9, around 10 p.m. near Bridge and La Vega Drive SW, just west of the Rio Grande. Before the crash, a New Mexico State Police officer saw an SUV pass his patrol car on I-25 going roughly 125 miles per hour.
According to documents filed in federal court, federal investigators believe Edward Vallez, 42, and Jonathan Acuna, 22, were inside the SUV. Investigators say the driver of the speeding vehicle wouldn’t stop for police, eventually exiting on Avenida Cesar Chavez. The SUV then headed west on the city street, toward the Rio Grande.
Just west of the river, near the intersection of Bridge Boulevard and La Vega, investigators say the pursuing NMSP officer saw signs of a crash. Investigators say there was debris in the roadway and damage to a cinder block wall along with a white Dodge Durango SUV with significant front-end damage.
Officers eventually detained Vallez and Acuna. Acuna was held at gunpoint by a civilian before officers arrived. Meanwhile, Vallez was found roughly an hour later near Airway and Cannon roads, about a quarter-mile from the crash. Officers say they believed Vallez was in the crash because of injuries on his head.
The FBI’s Violent Gang Task Force has since seized the drugs and money, however, it has not filed any federal charges in the investigation. The FBI says its investigation is ongoing.
Both suspects are facing state charges tied to the crash. Acuna is accused of leaving the scene of a crash and resisting, evading or obstructing an officer. Vallez is facing charges related to the crash of speeding, DWI, leaving the scene of a crash and other accused crimes.
Inside the car, officers found three cell phones and a cache of drugs and money. The FBI says roughly $130,000 was inside the car, along with approximately 230,000 fentanyl pills.
Acuna has since been released from MDC. Vallez remains in MDC in relation to other cases. Online jail records indicate Vallez has a federal warrant and is facing allegations of a probation violation.
According to documents filed in federal court, Vallez has been arrested 27 times in New Mexico. His residence was recently among 15 locations raided by the Violent Gang Task Force since September as part of an investigation into violent crime in aid of racketeering and drug distribution That investigation has netted roughly $1.8 million, more than 25 firearms and around 142 pounds of meth, according to investigators.