Ties That Bind: Federal agents link SNM to Vegas drug trafficking operation

Ties That Bind: Federal agents link SNM to Vegas drug trafficking operation

From the Las Vegas Optic

Editor’s note: The following is part four of a series exploring the role street gangs, prison gangs and organized crime play in violence, drug trafficking and addiction within Las Vegas and its surrounding communities.

The summer of 2019 was a violent one in Las Vegas. By early August, four people had been shot. Three died from those wounds.

By the end of the summer, local police and federal agents suspected one man was involved in each of the shootings: Marcos R. Ruiz, a then 40-year-old resident of Las Vegas who was a member of the Westside Locos street gang and an associate of the often-violent Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico prison gang, according to multiple affidavits filed in U.S. District Court.

Las Vegas police were familiar with Ruiz as well, long before violence erupted in 2019. Police first arrested Ruiz in 1999, when he was 20, for burglary and multiple charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Ruiz accepted a plea agreement in November 1999, pleading no contest to three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Soon after, on Nov. 22, 1999, a grand jury indicted Ruiz of trafficking cocaine. After months of court proceedings, the case was set to go to trial in the Fourth Judicial District Court at the end of January 2001, but days before the trial was to begin, the charges were dropped.

As that trafficking case moved through the court system, Ruiz was charged with second-degree murder in the July 2000 shooting death of 21-year-old Fabian Ortega. Ruiz pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter with a firearm enhancement, and was sentenced to state prison. He served a little more than 24 months in prison, with the rest of the sentence suspended. After being released from prison, Ruiz was placed on supervised parole for another 24 months. Ruiz completed his sentence Aug. 31, 2007.