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Justice News

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lea County Man Sentenced to Twelve and a Half Years for Violating Federal Firearms Laws

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Cody Allen Little, 34, of Lovington, N.M., was sentenced today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to 150 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for violating the federal firearms laws.  The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, 5th Judicial District Attorney Janetta B. Hicks, Thomas G. Atteberry, Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and Lea County Sheriff Steve Ackerman.

U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said that Little 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.

“It is an honor to work with our federal partners to take dangerous criminals off our streets,” said 5th Judicial District Attorney Janetta B. Hicks.

“This investigation is an example of the hard work of ATF special agents and the excellent cooperation we have with our law enforcement partners.  Because of this cooperation, we were able to seize these stolen firearms and remove them from this prohibited possessor,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry. “This sentence sends a clear message that gun crime equals hard time.  The success of this investigation is attributed to the excellent undercover work that was conducted and the solid partnership between ATF, our law enforcement partners, and the United States Attorney’s Office.”

Little was arrested on a criminal complaint in June 2012, and subsequently was charged with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition and possession of stolen firearms in a superseding indictment.  The superseding indictment alleged that Little unlawfully possessed firearms and ammunition, including a stolen assault rifle and a stolen shotgun, on Nov. 1, 2011, in Lea County, N.M.  At the time, Little was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of the following felony offenses in the 5th Judicial District Court for the State of New Mexico in Lea County:  (1) burglary, battery on a peace officer and possession of drug paraphernalia, (2) battery on a peace officer and resisting an officer, and (3) burglary and larceny.

On May 21, 2013, a federal jury found Little guilty on both counts of the superseding indictment.  The trial evidence established that on the night of Oct. 24, 2011, the “Southwest Arms,” a gun shop in Lovington owned and operated by a federal firearms licensee (FFL), was burglarized and seven weapons, including several assault rifles, were stolen.  Within days, law enforcement authorities and the FFL received tips leading them to focus on Little, who was renting in a converted well-house located on a residential property less than half a mile away from the gun shop, as a potential suspect in the burglary.

On Nov. 1, 2011, officers went to the residential property on which the well-house was located to follow up on the tips.  While speaking with an individual at the residence, the officers saw Little walk out of the well-house and away from the area where the officers were standing, and disappear from sight.  When an officer walked to the area where Little was last seen, he observed a storage shed with its doors secured in the open position.  Glancing into the shed, the officer observed parts of an AR 15 style assault rifle and AR 15 style assault rifles in plain view.

After obtaining a search warrant for the property, officers recovered two firearms and ammunition from the well-house where Little was living.  The first firearm, a .308 caliber assault rifle with a loaded 19-round magazine, was found inside a sleeping bag in the well-house.  The second, a 12 gauge shotgun, was found under the bed in the well-house.  Two shot gun shells were found on a shelf above the bed.  Both firearms were among the weapons stolen from the gun shop on Oct. 24, 2011.  After confirming that Little was residing in the well-house, the officers arrested Little on state charges on Nov. 2, 2011.  The state charges against Little were dismissed after he was arrested on federal charges.

The case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives with assistance from the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the Lovington Police Department and the Lea County Sheriff’s Department, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa A. Lizarraga and Shaheen P. Torgoley.

Updated January 26, 2015