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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 9, 2016

Albuquerque Resident Pleads Guilty to Violating Federal Drug Trafficking Laws

Defendant One of 104 Individuals Federally Charged as a Result of ATF-Led Investigation Pursued in Support of Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE – Shawn Anthony Burns, 31, of Albuquerque, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court to violating federal drug trafficking laws under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Burns was arrested during an ATF-led investigation that resulted in the filing of 59 federal indictments and one 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.

Burns was arrested in July 2016, on an indictment charging him with distributing crack cocaine on April 19, 2016, April 20, 2016, and April 29, 2016, in Bernalillo County.  The indictment included forfeiture provisions requiring Burns to forfeit approximately $4,000 to the United States.

During today’s hearing, Burns pled guilty to distributing crack cocaine and admitted that on April 29, 2016, he distributed 28 grams and more of crack cocaine.  At sentencing, Burns faces a statutory minimum penalty of five years and a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.  A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled

To date, 17 of the 104 defendants charged as a result of the ATF investigation have entered guilty pleas.  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.

The case was investigated by the Albuquerque offices of ATF and DEA and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly A. Brawley.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated December 9, 2016