Cuban National Receives 210-Month Prison Sentence for Federal Firearms Conviction
ALBUQUERQUE – United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that, today in Albuquerque federal court, Reynaldo Romero-Leon, 44, was sentenced to a 210-month term of imprisonment to be followed by three-years of supervised release based on his federal firearms conviction. The federal court imposed the lengthy sentence after finding that Romero-Leon was an armed career criminal based on his prior criminal history. After completing his supervised release term, Romero-Leon will be supervised by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (ICE) because he is a Cuban national and the lack of diplomatic relationships between the United States and Cuba precludes deportation.
Court records reflect that Romero-Leon was arrested on March 11, 2009 by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) based on a criminal complaint charging him with federal firearms violation; he has remained in federal custody since that time. On April 9, 2009, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Romero-Leon as (1) a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and (2) an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition. According to the indictment, before March 11, 2009, Romero-Leon previously had been convicted of four separate narcotics trafficking crimes, and thus was prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition.
Romero-Leon initially was arrested on March 11, 2009 by Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officers for aggravated assault on a police officer during the course of a narcotics trafficking investigation. According to the criminal complaint, APD officers went to an Albuquerque residence in response to a referral from Albuquerque City Housing indicating that the residence, which was federally subsidized, possibly was being used by unauthorized individuals and for narcotics trafficking. When the authorized resident, who identified herself as Romero-Leon's girlfriend, permitted APD officers to enter the residence, the officers encountered Romero-Leon, who was on a couch holding a pistol. An APD officer was able to wrest the pistol from Romero-Leon after a brief struggle.
When the APD officers arrested Romero-Leon, they officers found a magazine loaded with 15 rounds of 9mm ammunition in his pocket. After learning that Romero-Leon was a previously convicted felon, APD referred the case to ATF for federal investigation and prosecution. ATF's investigation confirmed that Romero-Leon was a prior convicted felon and, with assistance from ICE, learned that Romero was a Cuban national. The investigation also revealed that Romero-Leon was under ICE supervision due to his status as a Cuban national and was prohibited from possessing firearms while under ICE supervision.
Romero-Leon entered a guilty plea to both counts of the indictment on May 4, 2010, the day before his scheduled trial setting.
Assistant United States Attorneys Linda Mott and Norman Cairns prosecuted the case, which was investigated by ATF with assistance from the APD and ICE.