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Press Release

Rio Rancho Man Pleads Guilty to Violating Federal Narcotics Trafficking and Firearms Laws

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
Defendant Prosecuted Under Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE – Christopher Mathuren, 38, of Rio Rancho, N.M., pleaded guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to methamphetamine trafficking and firearms charges.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Mathuren will be sentenced to ten years in federal prison followed by not less than three years of supervised release.

The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, 13th Judicial District Attorney Lemuel L. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry of the Phoenix Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Chief Michael Geier of the Rio Rancho Police Department.

Mathuren, whose prior criminal history includes convictions for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, is prosecuted as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution.  Under this 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.    Because New Mexico’s violent crime rates, on a per capita basis, are amongst the highest in the nation, New Mexico’s law enforcement community is collaborating to target repeat offenders from counties with the highest violent crime rates, including Sandoval County, under this initiative.

Mathuren was arrested on Oct. 28, 2014, on a three-count indictment charging him with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition; possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute; and using and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  According to the indictment, Mathuren committed the three offenses on July 22, 2014, in Sandoval County, N.M.  The indictment was superseded on Dec. 16, 2014, to add two additional charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition on Oct. 28, 2014 – the date on which Mathuren was arrested on the original indictment.

During today’s proceedings, Mathuren pled guilty to Counts 2 and 3 of the indictment.   In entering the guilty plea, Mathuren admitted that on July 22, 2014, officers of the Rio Rancho Police Department executed a search warrant on his vehicle and seized approximately 30.3 grams of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, a pistol, rifle and ammunition.  Mathuren further admitted that the rear stalk of the rifle had been shortened and the pistol had been reported stolen.  Mathuren acknowledged that the firearms were “tools of the drug trafficking trade” and that he possessed them to assist him in his drug trafficking activities.

Mathuren previously was charged in July 2014, on related state charges.  The state charges were dismissed in favor of federal prosecution after Mathuren was arrested on the federal charges in this case.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Rio Rancho Police Department with assistance from the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Rumaldo R. Armijo is prosecuting the case.

Updated June 17, 2015