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Justice News

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Albuquerque Man Sentenced to Eighteen Years for Conviction on Federal Carjacking and Firearms Charges

ALBUQUERQUE – Raul Ortega, 21, of Albuquerque, N.M., was sentenced this afternoon to 18 years in federal prison for his conviction on carjacking and firearms charges.  Ortega will be on supervised release for three years after completing his prison sentence.  Ortega also was ordered, jointly with his co-defendant, to pay $2335.24 in restitution to the victims of his criminal conduct.

Ortega and his co-defendant, Joel Meeks, 21, 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.

According to court filings, Meeks robbed a business called “Up in Smoke” at gunpoint on Dec. 6, 2012.  Meeks also robbed a business called “PDQ” at gunpoint on Dec. 7, 2012, and discharged his firearm while committing the crime.  Meeks and Ortega jointly committed two carjackings on Jan. 13, 2013 and Jan. 17, 2013, and brandished firearms while committing those crimes.

On Feb. 19, 2014, Ortega entered guilty pleas to Counts 5 and 7 of the indictment, which charged him with the Jan 13, 2013 and Jan. 27, 2013 carjackings.  He also pled guilty to Count 6, which charged him with using a firearm during the Jan 13, 2013 carjacking.

On April 1, 2014, Meeks entered guilty pleas to Counts 3 and 4 of the indictment, which charged him with robbing the PDQ store on Dec. 7, 2012, and with discharging a firearm while robbing the store.  He also pled guilty to Counts 5 and 7, which charged him with the Jan. 13, 2013 carjacking and Jan. 17, 2013 carjacking, respectively.  Meeks remains in custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, he faces a prison sentence within the range of 20 to 25 years.

This case was brought as part of a 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 initiative is part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution.  Under the worst of the worst anti-violence 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.

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 and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon K. Stanford.

Updated January 26, 2015