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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 19, 2019

MAN FROM LAS VEGAS, N.M. FACES FEDERAL CHARGES OF COCAINE POSSESSION AND ROBBERY

ALBUQUERQUE – Gary Coca, 46, of Las Vegas, N.M., appeared in federal court in Albuquerque today on a federal complaint charging him with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and robbery by interference with commerce by threats or violence.

            The charges against Coca are the result of an FBI-led multi-agency effort to reduce violent crime in northern New Mexico communities.  U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson, Special Agent in Charge James C. Langenberg of the FBI Albuquerque Division, New Mexico State Police Chief Tim Johnson, Las Vegas (New Mexico) Police Chief David T. Bibb, and Richard Flores, District Attorney for the Fourth Judicial District of New Mexico, announced the results of the multi-agency collaboration today in a series of press releases.

            “Reducing violent crime in America is one of the Department of Justice’s highest priorities,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Federici.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to protect the safety of New Mexicans by dismantling the violent criminal organizations that are responsible for so much of the violence in our communities, jails, and prisons.”

            “The FBI has been working closely with our law enforcement partners for years to weaken and eventually eliminate this violent prison gang, arresting approximately 160 of its members and associates,” said Special Agent in Charge James C. Langenberg.  “This latest arrest should send a clear message that those who plot to undermine the security of our communities and correctional system will be held accountable.”

            “Today’s operation should make citizens of New Mexico proud in that many law enforcement agencies worked together for a common goal; to eliminate violent career criminals from our communities,” said New Mexico State Police Chief Tim Johnson.  “80 New Mexico State Police officers were assigned to take part in today’s successful operation. The New Mexico State Police is excited to be part of the Violent Crimes Task Force.  New Mexico State Police will continue to work together with law enforcement partners and conduct proactive police operations, targeting the most dangerous criminals in New Mexico. The New Mexico State Police is committed to addressing the concerns of New Mexicans impacted by crime.”

            “I’ve often said that when different agencies work in a collaborated effort, great things can happen,” said District Attorney Flores.  “I am very thankful to the United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI for spearheading this operation.  It’s helped in making our community that much safer.”

            According to the criminal complaint, police in Las Vegas, N.M., stopped Coca for driving erratically on May 2, 2019.  Coca and a passenger allegedly ran from the vehicle and officers chased after them.  During the chase, Coca allegedly took off his jacket and left it behind as he jumped a fence.  Coca got away, but police located his jacket and searched it.  They allegedly found a plastic bag containing about 13.5 grams of crack cocaine and a digital scale.

            According to the criminal complaint, Coca allegedly went into a home improvement store in Albuquerque on August 7, 2019.  He allegedly selected about $1003 worth of merchandise and went to leave the store without paying.  When security tried to stop Coca, he allegedly pulled a handgun from his waistband and pointed it at a store employee.  Coca got away in his car.  Police officers from the Pueblo of Sandia arrested Coca on August 14, 2019.

            Coca is currently in custody pending trial.   He faces up to 20 years in prison for the drug and robbery offenses.  A complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

            The Albuquerque Office of the FBI investigated this case with assistance from the Albuquerque Police Department, Las Vegas Police Department, Sandia Police Department, and New Mexico State Police, with assistance from the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.   Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maria Armijo and Randy Castellano are prosecuting the case.

Press Release Number: 
19-152
Updated September 24, 2019