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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Albuquerque Man Pleads Guilty to Being an Armed Career Criminal and Heroin Trafficking

ALBUQUERQUE – Arthur Sanchez, 35, of Albuquerque, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to a two-count indictment charging him with heroin trafficking and being an armed career felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.  The guilty plea was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough, 2nd Judicial District Attorney Kari E. Brandenburg, Special Agent in Charge Bernard J. Zapor of the Phoenix Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Albuquerque Police Chief Allen Banks.

Sanchez was arrested on state charges on March 30, 2011, after officers of the Albuquerque Police Department observed Sanchez throw an object out of his vehicle’s window when they pulled him over for a traffic violation.  The object was a package containing approximately 22 grams of heroin.  The officers subsequently recovered a pistol with a loaded magazine from Sanchez’s vehicle. 

In March 2013, Sanchez was indicted federally and charged with possession of heroin with intent to distribute and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition based on the conduct occurring on March 30, 2011.  At the time, Sanchez was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of the following felony offenses:  aggravated assault and auto burglary; robbery; and aggravated robbery with a firearm. The related state charges were dismissed after Sanchez was transferred to federal custody in April 2013.

During today’s proceedings, Sanchez entered a guilty plea to both counts of the indictment.  Sanchez admitted intentionally possessing heroin on March 30, 2011, with the intention of distributing it.  He also admitted possessing a loaded pistol on that day.

Sanchez will remain detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Sanchez will be sentenced to 15 years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.  Sanchez will receive this enhanced sentence because of his status as an armed career criminal.

Sanchez was prosecuted as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution.  Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Albuquerque Police Department, with assistance from the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Mysliwiec.

Updated January 26, 2015