- Associated Press - Thursday, September 24, 2015

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) - A months-long investigation into drug trafficking in southern New Mexico has led to charges against 41 people in Roswell and the surrounding area, officials announced Thursday.

Officials with the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration said 21 of the defendants are facing federal charges and the remaining 20 face state charges. Investigators seized more than 12 pounds of methamphetamine, nearly $36,000 in cash and numerous firearms including two assault rifles, authorities said.

The charges against suspects from Roswell, Dexter, Artesia and elsewhere came after detectives broadened a probe into Joseph Ray Mendiola, an alleged meth-trafficking ringleader, to include those who authorities say supplied drugs to him and his dealers, as well as other traffickers in Chaves County.

According to a federal indictment, Mendiola’s charges include conspiracy to distribute meth and cocaine. He and four others were arrested July 31.

Two dozen defendants were arrested during raids Thursday in Roswell. Seven others facing federal charges remain at large.

New Mexico State Police, Roswell police and the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office also participated in the probe.

Federal law enforcement agencies have increased their presence in recent years in the Roswell area and other rural regions of the state.

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