Albuquerque Felon Pleads Guilty to Federal Drug Trafficking and Firearms Charges
Defendant One of 104 Individuals Federally Charged as the Result of ATF-Led Investigation Pursued in Support of Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative
ALBUQUERQUE – Carlos Vasquez, 47, of Albuquerque, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court to drug trafficking and firearms charges under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office
Vasquez was arrested during an ATF-led investigation that resulted in the filing of 59 federal indictments and a federal criminal complaint charging 104 Bernalillo County residents with federal firearms and narcotics trafficking offenses. The investigation began in mid-April 2016, when ATF personnel from throughout the country joined forces with federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies in New Mexico to combat the high rate of violent crime in the Albuquerque metropolitan area. The investigators utilized a number of investigative techniques, including undercover operations, historical investigation and targeting of multi-convicted felons in possession of firearms.
The investigation was undertaken in support 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 collaborate with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution primarily based on their prior criminal convictions with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.
Vasquez was charged in a three-count indictment filed on June 14, 2016, with distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine on May 26, 2016 and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition on June 1, 2016. According to the indictment, Vasquez committed the crimes in Bernalillo County. In June 2016, Vasquez was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of aggravated battery on a household member, attempted armed robbery, and abandonment or abuse of a child.
During today’s proceedings, Vasquez pled guilty to possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. In entering the guilty plea, Vasquez admitted that on May 26, 2016, he sold methamphetamine to an individual working with law enforcement. Vasquez also admitted that on June 1, 2016, he gave a firearm and ammunition to an undercover law enforcement agent. Vasquez acknowledged that he was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because of his status as a convicted felon.
At sentencing, Vasquez faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. Vasquez remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
To date, 50 of the 104 defendants have entered guilty pleas, and 18 have been sentenced. The remaining defendants have entered not guilty pleas. Charges in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
These cases were investigated by the Albuquerque office of ATF. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eva Fontanez.