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Justice News

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Felon from Hobbs Sentenced to 100 Months for Unlawfully Possessing Firearm and Ammunition

Case Prosecuted as Part of “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE – Ruben Cantu, 43, of Hobbs, N.M., was sentenced today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to 100 months in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.  He will be on supervised release for two years after completing his prison sentence.

U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said that Cantu, who has six felony convictions over the past 23 years, was prosecuted 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 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 rates, on a per capita basis, are amongst 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 Lea County, under this initiative.

 “Today’s sentencing serves as an example to those criminals who continue to plague or community and utilize crime guns,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry of the Phoenix Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  “We will find you, and we will lock you up in a federal prison where you will no longer experience an iota of freedom.”

“The FBI and its federal partners are glad to work with local law enforcement to get the worst offenders off the streets and put them behind bars for a long time,” said Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division.  “These convictions demonstrate how federal, state and local agencies working together can make their communities safer.  I am grateful to the FBI Special Agents and staff who worked on this case, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Lea County Drug Task Force, and Hobbs Police Department.”

Cantu was arrested on July 7, 2014, on an indictment charging him with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.  The indictment alleged that Cantu committed the crimes on March 5, 2014, in Lea County, N.M.  At the time, Cantu was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition because of his prior felony convictions.

 On Dec. 8, 2015, Cantu pled guilty to the indictment and admitted that on March 5, 2014, he was in possession of a firearm and multiple rounds of ammunition.  He further acknowledged that he was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition based on his status as a convicted felon. 

This case was investigated by the ATF’s office in Las Cruces, the Roswell office of the FBI, the Lea County Drug Task Force and the Hobbs Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Terri J. Abernathy of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office prosecuted the case.

The Lea County Drug Task Force is comprised of officers from the Lea County Sheriff’s Office, Hobbs Police Department, Lovington Police Department, Eunice Police Department the Tatum Police Department and the Jal Police Department, and is part of the NM HIDTA Region VI Drug Task Force.  The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988.  HIDTA is a program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) which provides assistance to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States and seeks to reduce drug trafficking and production by facilitating coordinated law enforcement activities and information sharing.

Violent Crime
Updated July 26, 2016