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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 12, 2016

Armed Career Criminal from Albuquerque Pleads Guilty to Violating the Federal Firearms Laws

Defendant Prosecuted Under Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE – Jose Velasquez, 29, of Albuquerque, N.M., pleaded guilty today in federal court to violating the federal firearms laws. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Velasquez will be sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.  The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, 2nd Judicial District Attorney Kari E. Brandenburg, Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry of the Phoenix Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Chief Gorden Eden, Jr., of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).    

Velasquez, a career criminal whose prior felony convictions for armed robbery and aggravated battery on a peace officer, is being prosecuted under 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 work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders primarily based on their prior criminal convictions for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.  Because New Mexico’s violent crime rate, on a per capita basis, is one of the highest in the nation, New Mexico’s law enforcement community is collaborating to target repeat offenders from counties with the highest violent crime rates, including Bernalillo County, N.M., under this initiative.

Velasquez was arrested on state charges on Aug. 4, 2015, and subsequently was charged in a federal criminal complaint on Aug. 17, 2015, with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.  The state charges were dismissed in favor of federal prosecution.

Court records reflect that on Aug. 4, 2015, APD officers went to the area of Sunshine Terrace SE and University Blvd. SE in Albuquerque in response to a report that an armed man was making statements about getting into a “shoot … out with cops” and claiming that “the feds were after [him].”  They arrested Velasquez on state charges after observing him walking around with a firearm.  The officers found a semiautomatic pistol, ammunition and a small quantity of heroin in Velasquez’s pants pocket during a search incident to arrest.  Velasquez subsequently was indicted and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

During today’s proceedings, Velasquez pled guilty to the indictment and admitted that he unlawfully possessed a firearm on Aug. 4, 2015.  Velasquez has been in custody since his arrest and remains detained pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the ATF’s Albuquerque office and APD with assistance from the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Mysliwiec and George C. Kraehe are prosecuting the case.

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Updated May 12, 2016