Readout from United States Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez’s Meeting with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Representatives from Federal Agencies
ALBUQUERQUE – Last week, Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and federal prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) hosted New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and representatives from 13 federal agencies that serve New Mexico. The meeting focused on ongoing efforts to reduce violent crime in Albuquerque by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) and the partnership between federal and state law enforcement agencies to increase public safety.
U.S. Attorney Uballez opened the meeting by outlining the unique and close relationship between federal, state, and local law enforcement in New Mexico wherein federal law enforcement surgically targets drivers of violent crime for federal investigation and prosecution. Governor Lujan Grisham expressed her wholehearted support for federal criminal enforcement, and enthusiasm for the partnership, while noting that previous broadly targeted efforts to arrest had negligible impacts on violent crime. U.S. Attorney Uballez offered that the reason why federal resources are best used in a targeted fashion at the worst drivers of violence, freeing up state law enforcement to address lower-level crimes. U.S. Attorney identified the USAO’s policy of community violence intervention as the only law enforcement approach to result in statistically meaningful reductions in violent crime. This coordinated focused deterrence model identifies drivers of violent crime and offers support to those who chose peace, and federal criminal enforcement to those who chose violence.
To highlight law enforcement efforts, Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office discussed the Violent Crime Task Force, a partnership between federal and state law enforcement agencies where federal agents and cross-designated Task Force Officers (TFOs) from local and state law enforcement agencies work together to target drivers of violent crime. Next, Special Agent in Charge Brendan Iber from the ATF’s Phoenix Field Division and Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Boshek from the ATF’s Dallas Field Division discussed crime gun intelligence efforts including crime gun tracing and the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), which captures and compares ballistic evidence to aid in solving crimes. Next, Assistant Special Agent in Charge John E. Gonzalez from the DEA discussed their data-driven Operation Overdrive which targets violent criminals and drug traffickers linked to overdose deaths. Finally, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Russell Lashley highlighted Operation North Star where Marshal’s deputies arrested violent offenders with outstanding warrants.
U.S. Attorney Uballez summarized that cross-designation is the key to the relationship—TFOs from state and local law enforcement and Special Assistant United States Attorneys (SAUSAs) from local district attorney’s offices are a force multiplier and a critical bridge between agencies.
The federal agencies also discussed the pernicious threat posed by transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) operating human smuggling operations on New Mexico’s southern Border. Criminal Chief Aaron Jordan, of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office, described the combined efforts of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security in Joint Task Force Alpha to target command-and-control elements of TCOs, charging their leadership and seizing their money. Chief Jordan also described the USAO’s focused effort to charge all migrants and smugglers who pose a demonstrable threat to public safety in New Mexico. Chief Patrol Agent Anthony Good from U.S. Border Patrol Deputy and Deputy Special Agent in Charge Jason T. Stevens from Homeland Security Investigations described how the number of migrant deaths in the El Paso Sector doubled from 2022 to 2023, how smuggling organizations recruit minors to drive migrants, how the conditions in “stash houses” where migrants are kept are inhumane, and how migrants face extortion, violence, and rape at the hands of their smugglers.
Other attendees from federal agencies included Chief U.S. Probation Officer Ronald Travers from U.S. Probation and Parole, Special Agent in Charge William Mack from the U.S. Secret Service, Resident Agent in Charge Brenda Gonzales from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Special Agent in Charge Albert Childress from the Internal Revenue Service, Assistant Inspector in Charge Greg Torbenson from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Special Agent in Charge Victoria Owens from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. All of the participants expressed a commitment to partner with other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to address violent crime in not only Albuquerque, but the entire state.