Albuquerque Resident Pleads Guilty to Violating Federal Firearms Laws
Defendant is 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 – Francisco Garcia, 19, of Albuquerque, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court to violating the federal firearms laws under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Garcia 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.
Garcia was arrested on July 8, 2016, and charged by indictment with firearms and drug trafficking offenses. The indictment was subsequently superseded on July 28, 2016, and charged Garcia with distribution of methamphetamine on May 10, 2016 and May 12, 2016, and using and carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime. The indictment included forfeiture provisions requiring Garcia to forfeit $1,440 to the United States.
During today’s proceedings, Garcia pled guilty to using and carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime. In entering the guilty plea, Garcia admitted that on May 12, 2016, he possessed a firearm during the sale of methamphetamine to an undercover law enforcement agent. Garcia further admitted carrying the firearm for protection and to assist him in his drug trafficking crimes. At sentencing, Garcia faces a statutory minimum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.
To date, 20 of the 104 defendants have entered guilty pleas and one has 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.
The case was investigated by the Albuquerque offices of ATF. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rumaldo R. Armijo is prosecuting the case.