Six Southeast New Mexico Residents and a Texan Facing Federal Firearms and Narcotics Charges
Defendants Prosecuted as Part of “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative
ALBUQUERQUE – Investigations by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Lea County Drug Task Force and the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force have resulted in the filing of federal charges against six individuals who reside in southeastern New Mexico and a Texan. Five of the seven defendants were arrested yesterday and made their initial appearances in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., this morning. The other two are in state custody and will be transferred to federal custody to face the charges against them.
Dessi Timothy Burton, 22, of Odessa, Texas, was arrested on a criminal complaint charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm on Sept. 30, 2014, in Lea County. The criminal complaint alleges that Burton unlawfully possessed firearms while attempting to sell a semi-automatic pistol, two semi-automatic rifles, a shotgun and ammunition to an undercover officer. At the time Burton was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of child abuse and possession of a controlled substance.
Michael Gibson, 26, of Lovington, N.M., was arrested on a criminal complaint charging him with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in Lea County, N.M., in Sept. 2014. The criminal complaint alleges that on Sept. 10, 2014, Gibson sold approximately two ounces of methamphetamine to another person on Sept. 10, 2014, in Hobbs, N.M. Gibson allegedly displayed a handgun while negotiating the drug deal.
Shawn Hedgecock, 43, of Carlsbad, N.M., is charged in a criminal complaint with being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of an unregistered firearm with an obliterated serial number on Feb. 9, 2015, in Eddy County, N.M. The criminal complaint alleges that on Feb. 9, 2015, officers went to Hedgecock’s residence for the purpose of executing state court warrants for Hedgecock’s arrest. During a consensual search of the residence, the officers allegedly seized an unregistered sawed off shotgun and ammunition. Hedgecock was prohibited at the time from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of the following felony offenses: possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, concealing identity, and tampering with evidence. Hedgecock is in state custody on other charges and will be transferred to federal custody to face the charges in the criminal complaint.
The criminal complaint against Jared Taylor Pendleton, 30, and Jasmine Tapia, 19, both of Hobbs, N.M., charges Pendleton with being a felon in possession of a firearm, and charges both Pendleton and Tapia with possession of a sawed-off shotgun in Lea County. According to the criminal complaint, on Oct. 23, 2013, Tapia assisted Pendleton in selling an unregistered sawed-off shotgun to an undercover officer. At the time, Pendleton was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of fraud and the unlawful taking of a vehicle. Pendleton was arrested yesterday. Tapia is in state custody on related charges and will be transferred to federal custody to face the charges in the criminal complaint.
Daniel Ramirez, 19, of Hobbs, N.M., was arrested on a criminal complaint charging him with possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number and using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime on Dec. 12, 2014, in Lea County. The criminal complaint alleges that on Dec. 12, 2014, Ramirez was arrested for resisting officers and was found to be in possession of a semi-automatic handgun with an obliterated serial number, ammunition, approximately 11 ounces of cocaine, approximately 9.5 ounces of marijuana, and $420.00 cash.
Jestin White, 22, of Hobbs, N.M., was arrested on a criminal complaint charging him with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute on May 19, 2015, in Lea County. The complaint alleges that from Sept. 4, 2014 through May 19, 2015, White sold approximately 411.1 grams of cocaine, a .22 caliber rifle and ammunition to undercover law enforcement.
If convicted of the charges against them, each of the defendants faces a statutory maximum of ten years in federal prison on the firearms charges. If convicted on the narcotics charges against them, Gibson and White each faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
These cases were investigated by the Las Cruces and Roswell offices of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Lea County Drug Task Force and the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force with assistance from the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The U.S. Marshals Service assisted in yesterday’s law enforcement operation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Y. Armijo of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office prosecuted the case.
The Lea County Drug Task Force is comprised of officers from the Lea County Sheriff’s Office, Hobbs Police Department, Lovington Police Department, Eunice Police Department the Tatum Police Department and the Jal Police Department, and the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force is comprised of officers from the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, Carlsbad Police Department and Artesia Police Department and is part of the HIDTA Region VI Drug Task Force. The two task forces are part of the New Mexico HIDTA Region VI Drug Task Force. The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. HIDTA is a program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) which provides assistance to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States and seeks to reduce drug trafficking and production by facilitating coordinated law enforcement activities and information sharing.
Today’s law enforcement action and arrests were undertaken 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. This initiative recognizes that on a per capita basis, New Mexico’s violent crime rates significantly exceed the national average.