ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Two suspected drug dealers who federal agents say were targeting students at the University of New Mexico are facing state charges.
It's a haul that could sell for hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
DEA agents in Albuquerque were tipped off by an anonymous text message a few months ago using a relatively new text tip line.
"In this particular case, we didn't know about these people," said Eduardo Chavez, a group supervisor with the DEA. "This tip line initiated this investigation. We followed up on it, and now here we have drugs off the street and people going to jail."
Agents allege Mark Bingaman, 21, and Paul Featherston, 22, who shared the apartment, were selling drugs for over a year to a specific crowd: students at UNM.
"When we first started coming across them we found them near the campus, across the street at some of these places just hanging out with the students," Chavez said. "Undoubtedly the target market was the UNM students, the college crowd, the party crowd over there."
According to court documents, Featherston, who went by the name "Purple," sold ketamine to an undercover agent in February near UNM. The investigation went on for several more weeks before agents came knocking, which might not have happened had it not been for the tip line.
"For the DEA it was definitely a big success that shows this tip line does work, that citizens like you or me can actually text anonymously, provide information, and we are out there," Chavez said. "We are listening and we are following up on it."
Bingaman and Featherston face state charges of distribution. Both bonded out of jail.
The DEA tip line is simple. You can send the text to 843411 using the key word "drugs" and whatever information you can provide. There have been more than 200 text tips since the local line was set up last year.
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