Albuquerque Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Carjacking and Firearms Charges
ALBUQUERQUE – Raul Ortega, 21, of Albuquerque, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to federal carjacking and firearms charges, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough, Special Agent Carol K.O. Lee of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI and Chief Allen Banks of the Albuquerque Police Department.
Ortega and co-defendant Joel Meeks, 20, also of Albuquerque, were arrested in April 2013, on an eight-count indictment charging the pair with offenses stemming from a series of armed robberies of commercial businesses and home invasions, including armed robbery and carjacking, occurring in Bernalillo County, N.M., from Dec. 6, 2012 to Jan. 17, 2013.
During today’s proceedings, Ortega pleaded guilty to Counts 5, 6 and 7 of the indictment, charging him with two carjackings. In his plea agreement and with respect to Counts 5 and 6, Ortega admitted that on Jan. 13, 2013, Meeks and he forcibly entered a residence and robbed the owner of credit cards, his identification and other items. Ortega also admitted that Meeks and he physically assaulted the victim to obtain the PIN for his ATM card, his car keys and the location of his car. Before departing, Ortega and Meeks threatened the victim’s life if he reported the crime to the police. Ortega admitted that he was armed with a handgun while committing these crimes.
In his plea agreement and with respect to Count 7, Ortega also admitted that on Jan. 17, 2013, Meeks and he forcibly entered another residence and physically assaulted the owner. After restraining the victim, Meeks and Ortega robbed him of his credit cards, ATM cards and other items. After obtaining the PIN for the victim’s ATM card by threatening him further physical abuse, Meeks and Ortega also robbed the victim of his car keys and car.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Ortega will be sentenced to a prison term of 12 to 20 years to be determined by the court. Ortega has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
Meeks has pleaded not guilty and remains in federal custody pending trial which currently is scheduled March 3, 2014. The charges against Meeks are merely accusations and Meeks is presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the FBI and the Albuquerque Police Department with assistance from the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon K. Stanford 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.