Albuquerque city employee arrested with $270k of marijuana

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A 45-year-old Los Lunas man was arrested Wednesday on charges of distributing marijuana following an investigation where law enforcement seized 128 illegal plants.

Police arrested Joe Benavidez, a city of Albuquerque employee, at his home on Suzanne Court after agencies such as the DEA and the Valencia County Drug Task Force conducted an investigation that lasted several weeks.

Bosque Farms Police Lt. David Gallegos said Benavidez is charged with trafficking marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

During the raid, law enforcement also found almost four pounds of dried marijuana that was ready to be sold. The total estimated value of the marijuana plants was $270,000.

Gallegos said he could not comment about how the investigation started, but said he "anticipated" more arrests in the case.

Benavidez, who has worked as a maintenance supervisor for ABQ Ride, was scheduled to go on vacation on Wednesday, Aug. 16.

Breanna Anderson, a spokeswoman for the city of Albuquerque, said Benavidez will be reassigned to cleaning buses while an internal investigation is conducted. That investigation is expected to be completed within the next 60 days.

Benavidez bonded out of Valencia County Detention Center on Aug. 15.


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