Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Albuquerque Man Sentenced to Seven Years for Stealing Prescription Painkillers and Brandishing Firearm During Robbery of Retail Pharmacy
Defendant Prosecuted Under HOPE Initiative which Seeks to Reduce Opioid-Related Deaths in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Eddie Gallegos, 39, of Albuquerque, N.M., was sentenced today in federal court for his conviction on theft of medical products and firearms charges arising out of the armed robbery of an Albuquerque-area retail pharmacy in June 2013. Gallegos was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.
Gallegos was arrested in June 2015, on an indictment charging him with violating the Hobbs Act by robbing a business engaged in interstate commerce, using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, violating the Safe Doses Act by stealing medical products, and possession of Oxycodone with intent to distribute. The charges against Gallegos arose out of the robbery of Phil’s Pills, a retail pharmacy in Albuquerque, on June 21, 2013.
On Dec. 1, 2015, Gallegos pled guilty to brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and violating the Safe Doses Act by stealing medical products. In entering his guilty plea, Gallegos admitted that on June 21, 2013, he entered the pharmacy called Phil’s Pills located at 5510 Lomas Blvd. in Albuquerque, pointed a firearm at an employee and the store owner, and demanded they fill his backpack with Oxycodone, OxyContin and Fentanyl. After the store owner complied with his demand, Gallegos fled the scene.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the FBI, the Tactical Diversion Squad of the DEA in Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joel R. Meyers and Shaheen P. Torgoley prosecuted the case.
DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squads combine DEA resources with those of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in an innovative effort to investigate, disrupt and dismantle those suspected of violating the Controlled Substances Act or other appropriate federal, state or local statutes pertaining to the diversion of licit pharmaceutical controlled substances or listed chemicals.
The Controlled Substance Registrant Protection Act was enacted in 1984, to combat the theft of prescription drugs from individuals and businesses registered with the DEA. It created penalties for entering a pharmacy’s premises for the purpose of stealing controlled substances, and includes enhanced punishment for using a dangerous weapon. The Safe Doses Act was enacted in Oct. 2012, to fight medical theft and protect patients from unknowingly using stolen and mishandled drugs. It provides for enhanced sentences for those who rob pharmacies of controlled substances; individuals who steal medical products; and “fences” who knowingly obtain stolen medical products for resale in the supply chain.
This case was prosecuted pursuant to the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative. The HOPE Initiative is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center that is partnering with the Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative with the overriding goal of reducing the number of opioid-related deaths in the District of New Mexico. The HOPE Initiative comprised of five components: (1) prevention and education; (2) treatment; (3) law enforcement; (4) reentry; and (5) strategic planning. The law enforcement component of the HOPE Initiative is led by the Organized Crime Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the DEA in conjunction with their federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners. Targeting members of major heroin and opioid trafficking organizations for investigation and prosecution is a priority of the HOPE Initiative.