ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The ringleader of one of New Mexico's biggest drug operations pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday.
Homero Varela, 30, admitted in a 19-page plea agreement to heading up the massive drug operation that was exposed in a series of raids a year ago .
Millions of dollars of drugs, money, property and weapons were seized in the raids.
Fifteen people were charged including Steve Chavez , an Albuquerque firefighter who was fired two weeks after his arrest. He and a dozen other defendants have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges while one suspect avoided arrest and hasn't been found.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says agents are still trying to track down Manuel Villa-Mayorquin, who is considered a fugitive.
The DEA said it was a big-time drug ring connected to Mexico's Sinaloa cartel.
The plea agreement provides details about Varela's involvement and how the drug ring went down. A series of Drug Enforcement Administration wiretaps and undercover drug buys revealed multiple high-dollar transactions.
In one phone call, prosecutors alleged Varela promised another defendant he would sell $450,000 of cocaine every week. Varela also admitted trying to send more than $100,000 in cash to drug contacts in Mexico.
The cash was seized by state police from a group of women near Hatch in July 2011.
In the plea agreement, Varela admitted he trafficked drugs and laundered money.
Varela faces a minimum sentence of 10 years. A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.
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