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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 27, 2015

Las Cruces Resident Sentenced to Twenty Years in Prison for Violating Federal Firearms Laws

Vasquez-De La Cruz Prosecuted as Part of Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE – Clemente Eduardo Vasquez-De La Cruz, 27, a naturalized citizen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, who resides in Las Cruces, N.M., was sentenced this afternoon in federal court to 20 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for violating the federal firearms laws.

Vasquez-De La Cruz 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.

Vasquez-De La Cruz was arrested in Dec. 2013, on a two-count indictment charging him with being a felon in possession of firearm and ammunition and possession of an unregistered short-barreled firearm.  Vasquez-De La Cruz was charged with committing both crimes on April 5, 2013, in Doña Ana County, N.M.  At the time, Vasquez-De La Cruz was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of aggravated assault, tampering with evidence, shooting at an occupied building and being a felon in possession of a firearm or destructive device.

Vasquez-De La Cruz pled guilty to the two-count indictment on April 9, 2014, without the benefit of a plea agreement.  According to evidence presented during the prosecution of the case, Vasquez-De La Cruz was charged based on an incident on April 5, 2013, when he fired a shotgun at a Deputy of the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office.

Vasquez-De La Cruz also was convicted on related state charges by the 3rd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.  His federal sentence will run concurrent with his state sentence.

This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the New Mexico HIDTA Regional Interagency Drug Task Force (RIDTF)/Metro Narcotics Task Force.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maria Y. Armijo and Anna Wright of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.

The HIDTA Metro Narcotics Task Force is comprised of officers from the Las Cruces Police Department and the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office.  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.

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Updated February 27, 2015