All New Mexico Cities

Awards for Creativity

If we were to give out awards for creativity in drug trafficking, there would be a lot of contenders from the past year or so. Drugs have been lobbed over the international fence with a catapult and brought through tunnels. They have been flown in small planes to desolate areas of Wisconsin, and cooked up deep in the forests of Minnesota. They have been pasted onto coloring book pages sent to prisoners in New Jersey and baked into brownies destined for Oregon. They have been smuggled over the Mexican border in tequila bottles and discovered in secret panels of trucks and unmentionable places inside of people. To summarize, drug traffickers will do whatever is necessary to deliver their products and make their thousands of dollars and to avoid being the one who gets hurt by the boss.

Not a surprise, then, in December 2012 in Albuquerque, when DEA agents found their biggest methamphetamine bust in a very long time hidden in potato chip bags and laundry detergent boxes. Charles Padilla worked at Sunport in the maintenance department for the past thirteen years but he will not be working there any longer. Agents acted on a tip and searched Padilla’s house in Southwest Albuquerque. They found 18 pounds of meth, which may sound small, but it has a street value of $3.5 million. Another tip led them to an address on Spotted Pony where they found Padilla and more meth, along with a total of 20 guns and a bulletproof vest.

The distressing element in this story is that a man who is allegedly one of the city’s biggest drug traffickers and connected to the Mexican cartels, is hiding in plain sight in a nice neighborhood. Think about that for a minute. It means that suspicion can easily be cast on anyone, since one never seems to know who is trafficking in drugs. There is not a particular “look” to watch out for. Drugs have permeated every type of community, every race, gender, age group and income level.

If Padilla is convicted, he will be one less guy on the streets of Albuquerque, as he will face a minimum of ten years in prison. We can be glad that one more is off the streets. At the same time, it’s a sad thought that perhaps the guy down the block from us might be in the same business.


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