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Justice News

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Armed Career Criminal to Serve Twenty-Two and a Half Years in Prison for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition

ALBUQUERQUE – Warren Rivera, 34, of Albuquerque, N.M., was sentenced this morning to 270 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Rivera’s sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales and Thomas G. Atteberry, Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

Rivera was arrested on April 26, 2011, on a criminal complaint charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. He has been in federal custody since that time. On May 11, 2011, Rivera was indicted on that same charge. On Oct. 18, 2011, a federal jury convicted Rivera on the sole count of the indictment.

Rivera was sentenced under the Armed Career Criminal Act. According to the indictment, Rivera was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition in April 2011, because he previously had been convicted of the following three felony offenses in the Second Judicial District Court for the State of New Mexico (Bernalillo County): (1) aggravated assault against a household member, (2) aggravated assault against a household member with a deadly weapon, and (3) possession of a controlled substance. Rivera’s entire criminal history is more extensive. Court filings reflect that Rivera’s criminal activity began in 1998, when he was 19, and includes five prior felony convictions and 23 misdemeanor convictions. Violence, including domestic violence and violence against law enforcement officers, was a factor in seven of Rivera’s misdemeanor convictions, three of his prior felony convictions, and the offense for which he was sentenced today.

According to the evidence at Rivera’s trial, on April 4, 2011, officers of the Albuquerque Police Department responded to a domestic violence call reporting that a man was threatening another man with a handgun. When the officers arrived at the scene and took Rivera and his girlfriend into custody, they found that the girlfriend was in possession of a handgun. The girlfriend’s father testified that he and his wife went to their daughter’s apartment after receiving a call from their daughter, who tearfully told him that Rivera was holding her captive. In the vicinity of the apartment, the girlfriend’s parents they found Rivera and their daughter out in the street. After Rivera grabbed his girlfriend’s wallet, the father approached Rivera and demanded the return of the wallet. Rivera responded by pointing a handgun at the father’s head and threatening to shoot him.

“We will not tolerate armed violent felons terrorizing our community,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry. “The success of the investigation is attributed to the outstanding cooperation between the investigating agencies. I would like to commend the leadership of U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales and his line attorney for their successful prosecution of this case.”

This case was prosecuted as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution. Under this 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 communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Albuquerque Police Department, with assistance from the District Attorney’s Office for the Second Judicial District of the State of New Mexico. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman Cairns.

Updated January 26, 2015