July homicide drew FBI attention to Las Vegas

July homicide drew FBI attention to Las Vegas

From the Las Vegas Optic

Agents and officers from several law enforcement agencies executed more than 20 search warrants on Sept. 19, raiding multiple homes and one business in Las Vegas. The raids were part of a federal investigation that began nearly five years ago, but recently-unsealed court documents reveal that Las Vegas wasn’t a target of the investigation until the July 22 slaying of Leroy “Smurf” Lucero.

The raids in Las Vegas were part of two separate federal investigations, one by the FBI, the other by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The focus of the FBI investigation was to disrupt the growth and influence of the Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico prison gang. The DEA investigation focused on a drug trafficking organization allegedly run by Robert Corbin Padilla of Albuquerque.

Though DEA agents were investigating several Las Vegas residents suspected of helping Padilla, the FBI was not investigating anyone in Las Vegas until Lucero was killed, court records show. The separate investigations began to overlap following Lucero’s death when one Las Vegas resident — Marcos Ruiz — became a target of both investigations.