A man who previously pleaded guilty to trafficking crack cocaine and to distributing prescription drugs was sentenced late last month to 13 years in prison.
Anselmo “Chemo” Ortiz, 22, was sentenced by District Judge Matthew Sandoval on Aug. 28. Sandoval sentenced Ortiz to 15 years with two of those years suspended, the District Attorney’s Office announced.
“This defendant was clearly dealing drugs to individuals within our community, and I am happy we were able to take him off our streets,” District Attorney Richard Flores said in a news release. “People often tell me that we will never totally win the war against drugs. To those people I say that they may be correct, but it will never deter our office and law enforcement from continuing to fight the fight against drug dealers and drug trafficking.”
Flores acknowledged that it is often an uphill battle “but when we are able to remove an individual like this one from our community, the efforts are validated.”
Ortiz pleaded guilty in March to trafficking crack cocaine, a second-degree felony, three counts of distribution of hydrocodone, third-degree felonies, distribution of alprazolam, a third-degree felony and distribution of marijuana, a fourth-degree felony. The plea deal had no agreement as to what sentence should be imposed.
According to Flores, Ortiz is a habitual offender who was convicted in June 2008 of possession of a controlled substance.
Flores said the case for which Ortiz was recently sentenced stems from a traffic stop conducted by Las Vegas police officers. During the stop, officers obtained consent to search Ortiz’s vehicle. Officers found 20 individually packaged baggies of crack cocaine with a total weight of about 5 grams, 361 pills hydrocodone and alprazolam and about 74 grams of marijuana.
“In addition to the drugs seized, officers seized the defendant’s cell phone and located numerous pages of text messages which showed the defendant transacting drug deals,” the release states.
Flores said he recently attended an Attorney General summit on prescription drugs and was astounded by the number of overdose deaths linked to prescription drugs.
“We are seeing an increase in the illegal sales of prescription meds like painkillers,” Flores said. “The time is now for us as a community to become more aware of this potential epidemic. We cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand regarding this issue.”
Flores said painkillers are strong pharmaceuticals that can be beneficial when used appropriately “but often have disastrous consequences when abused or illegally sold.”
He said those addicted to prescription drugs often visit various doctors to receive a prescription, a practice known as “doctor shopping.”
“Other methods include prescription fraud, pharmacy theft and purchasing from a drug dealer, like Chemo Ortiz,” the release states. Flores urged parents to be aware of the situation.
“Check your medicine cabinets. Check your pill bottles. Check Grandma and Grandpa’s medicine cabinets and pill bottles,” Flores said. “Make sure that your kids are not taking pills that are not theirs for their own ingestion or for selling them.”
He said he is working with law enforcement and schools to bring more awareness to the problem.