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Justice News

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Albuquerque Man Sentenced to Twenty Years for Conviction on Robbery, Carjacking and Firearms Charges

Co-Defendant Previously Sentenced to Eighteen Years in Prison;
Case Prosecuted Under Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE – Joel Meeks, 21, of Albuquerque, N.M., was sentenced late this afternoon to 20 years in federal prison for his conviction on robbery, carjacking and firearms charges.  Meeks will be on supervised release for three years after completing his prison sentence.  His co-defendant, Raul Ortega, 22, also of Albuquerque, previously was sentenced in Aug. 2014, to 18 years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.  The two men jointly are required to pay $2,482.04 in restitution to the victims of their criminal conduct.

The sentences were announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the Albuquerque office of the FBI, and Chief Gorden Eden, Jr., of the Albuquerque Police Department

Meeks and Ortega 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 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.

On Feb. 19, 2014, Ortega pled guilty 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.

This case was brought who brought this case 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 was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon K. Stanford.

Updated January 26, 2015