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Press Release

Mescalero Apache Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Assault Charges Arising out of Drive-By Shooting

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Rufus Juan Lester, 22, a member of the Mescalero Apache Nation, pleaded guilty this afternoon to federal assault charges arising out of a drive-by shooting of a home located on the Mescalero Apache Reservation.

Lester was arrested on Aug. 6, 2013, on a criminal complaint alleging that he fired multiple shots at a residence located on the Mescalero Apache Reservation in the early hours of Nov. 24, 2012.  Lester subsequently was indicted and charged with eight counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of discharging firearms during and in relation to crimes of violence.

During today’s proceedings, Lester pled guilty to Counts 1 through 8 of the indictment charging him with assault with a dangerous weapon.  In his plea agreement, Lester admitted riding in the passenger seat of a vehicle while another person drove past a residence in Mescalero, N.M.  As the vehicle went past the residence, Lester used two rifles to shoot at the residence.  Lester acknowledged that the residence was occupied by two adults and six children at the time of the shooting, and that he assaulted each of the occupants when he shot at the residence.

Lester has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.  At sentencing, Lester faces a statutory maximum penalty of ten years in prison on each of the eight assault charges.

This case was investigated by the Mescalero Agency of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron O. Jordan, of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.

Updated January 26, 2015