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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 25, 2019

FEDERAL JURY CONVICTS ALBUQUERQUE MAN ON METHAMPHETAMINE AND FIREARMS CHARGES

ALBUQUERQUE – A federal jury sitting in Albuquerque, N.M., returned a guilty verdict against Yusef Casanova 46, of Albuquerque, on methamphetamine trafficking and firearms charges today after a four-day trial before Senior U.S. District Judge James A. Parker.  The verdict was announced by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred J. Federici, Special Agent in Charge Monique Y. Villegas of the Phoenix Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Special Agent in Charge Kyle Williamson of the DEA’s El Paso Division.

Casanova was charged with violating the federal narcotics and firearms laws in an indictment originally filed in June 2016, and later superseded in March 2017.  The superseding indictment charged Casanova with distributing methamphetamine on June 7, 2016, in Bernalillo County, N.M.  It also charged Casanova with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and with unlawfully possessing an unregistered firearm.  According to the superseding indictment, in June 2016, Casanova was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of distributing controlled substances, escape from jail, tampering with evidence, robbery, and receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle.

Trial on the three-count superseding indictment began on April 22, 2019, and concluded this afternoon, when the jury returned a verdict of guilty on each of the three counts. 

            The evidence at trial established that in early June 2016, an ATF Special Agent was supervising an informant on an undercover operation in southeast Albuquerque that targeted narcotics and firearms crimes.  On June 6, 2016, the informant obtained a telephone number for Casanova, with the understanding that Casanova would sell him methamphetamine.  That day, the informant had four recorded telephone calls with Casanova, during which Casanova negotiated the sale of two ounces of methamphetamine and a firearm, a sawed-off rifle, to the informant.

On June 7, 2016, the informant had another recorded telephone call with Casanova during which they negotiated the price for the methamphetamine and the firearm – a $1250 for the drugs and $100 for the gun – and agreed to meet later that day to complete the deal.  When Casanova failed to show up at the agreed upon location, another meeting was arranged.  At the new location, the parking lot of an Albuquerque-area fast food restaurant, federal agents video-recorded Casanova as he met with an unidentified man before meeting with the informant to complete the drug and gun deal. 

The jury heard the testimony of the ATF Special Agent who supervised the informant, the DEA Special Agents who arranged for the methamphetamine to be tested at the DEA lab, and the ATF Special Agent who confirmed that the gun traveled in interstate commerce and was shorter than permitted by law.  The jury also heard the telephone recordings between Casanova and the informant, saw the videotape of the meeting during which Casanova sold the methamphetamine and gun to the informant, and saw the gun and ammunition that Casanova sold to the informant.

The jury deliberated less than two hours before returning the guilty verdict.

Casanova was remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service after the jury rendered its verdict and will remain detained until his sentencing hearing, which has not been scheduled.  At sentencing, Casanova faces a statutory mandatory minimum of ten years and a maximum of life imprisonment.

This case was investigated by the ATF and DEA offices in Albuquerque.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samuel A. Hurtado and Mark C. Pfizenmayer are prosecuting the case.

Updated April 26, 2019