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Justice News

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Albuquerque Man Charged with Robbing Pharmacy at Gunpoint to Obtain Prescription Painkillers

Defendant Charged with Violating Safe Doses Act

ALBUQUERQUE – James Phillip Tafoya, 42, of Albuquerque, N.M., made his initial appearance in federal court this morning on a three-count indictment charging him with (1) violating the Hobbs Act by robbing a business involved in interstate commerce, (2) using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, and (3) theft of medical products. Tafoya remains in custody pending his arraignment and detention hearing which are scheduled for Jan. 31, 2013.

Count 1 of the indictment alleges that Tafoya robbed an employee of an Albuquerquearea CVS Pharmacy at gunpoint on Nov. 3, 2012, and stole Oxycodone and Oxycontin. Count 2 alleges that Tafoya used a firearm to perpetuate the robbery, and Count 3 alleges that Tafoya violated the Safe Doses Act by using violence and the threat of violence to unlawfully take preretail medical products.

The Safe Doses Act was enacted in Oct. 2012, to fight medical theft and protect patients from unknowingly using stolen and mishandled drugs. The Act provides for enhanced sentences for individuals who rob pharmacies of controlled substances; individuals who steal medical products; and “fences” who knowingly obtain stolen medical products for resale in the supply chain.

If convicted, Tafoya faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the Hobbs Act charge and 30 years in prison on for theft of medical products charge. If convicted on the firearms charge, Tafoya will be sentenced to a mandatory seven-year term of imprisonment to be served consecutive to any prison term imposed on the other two charges.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said that this case was brought as part of a new law enforcement initiative launched in July 2012, by the FBI’s Violent Crimes and Major Offender Squad and the Albuquerque Police Department’s Armed Robbery Unit that targets suspects implicated in commercial armed robberies. This new initiative is part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution. Under the antiviolence 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 our communities for as long as possible.

The case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the FBI and the Albuquerque Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon K. Stanford.

Charges in indictments are only accusations. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated January 26, 2015