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Press Release

Federal Jury Finds Armed Career Criminal from Albuquerque Guilty of Unlawfully Possessing a Firearm and Ammunition

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
Defendant Prosecuted Under Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE – A federal jury sitting in Albuquerque, N.M., returned a verdict late yesterday afternoon finding Samuel Silva, 40, guilty of unlawfully possessing a firearm and ammunition after a one-day trial.  The verdict 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 E. Eden, Jr., of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).

Silva was charged on Dec. 3, 2014, with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition on July 1, 2014, in Bernalillo County, N.M.  According to the indictment, Silva was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of numerous felony offenses.  His prior felony convictions included auto burglary, unlawful taking of a vehicle, aggravated battery on a peace officer, attempted murder with a firearms enhancement, shooting at a motor vehicle, unlawful possession of a firearm, kidnapping with a firearms enhancement, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Silva was arrested on Dec. 18, 2014, after he was transferred to federal custody from state custody where he was detained on related state charges.  The state charges subsequently were dismissed in favor of federal prosecution. 

Silva’s trial on the felon in possession charge began yesterday morning and concluded late yesterday afternoon when the jury returned a guilty verdict.  The evidence at trial established that APD officers arrested Silva on an outstanding warrant on July 1, 2014.  After arresting Silva, the officers obtained a search warrant for the vehicle Silva was driving at the time of his arrest.  When the officers executed the search warrant, they found a semi-automatic pistol loaded with nine rounds of .40 caliber ammunition in the vehicle.

At sentencing, Silva faces an enhanced sentence of a statutory mandatory minimum of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison for unlawfully possessing a firearm and ammunition on July 1, 2014.  Silva faces this enhanced sentence because of his status as an armed career criminal.

The case was investigated by ATF in Albuquerque and APD with assistance from the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacob A. Wishard and Edward Han are prosecuting the case as part 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 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 and violent offenders, primarily based on their prior convictions, from counties with the highest violent crime rates under this initiative. 

Updated July 12, 2016

Violent Crime