ALBUQUERQUE – Darwin Neal Kinzhuma, 51, an enrolled member of the Mescalero Apache Nation who resides in Mescalero, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to a sexual abuse charge. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Kinzhuma will be sentenced to 81 months in prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. Kinzhuma will also be required to register as a sex offender when he completes his prison sentence.
Kinzhuma was arrested on March 23, 2016, on a criminal complaint charging him with sexually abusing a Mescalero Apache woman on June 28, 2015, on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation in Otero County, N.M. Kinzhuma was subsequently indicted on the same charge on Aug. 17, 2016.
During today’s proceedings, Kinzhuma pled guilty to the indictment charging him with aggravated sexual abuse. In entering the guilty plea, Kinzhuma admitted that on June 28, 2015, he sexually abused the victim on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation. He remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.
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.
The case was brought pursuant to the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project in the District of New Mexico which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women under a grant administered by the Pueblo of Laguna. The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project seeks to train tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable violent offense against Native women is prosecuted in either federal court or tribal court, or both. The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was largely driven by input gathered from annual tribal consultations on violence against women, and is another step in the Justice Department's on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.