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Press Release

Thomas Martinez Arraigned on Federal Carjacking and Firearms Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
Prosecution Brought Pursuant to Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE – U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, Kari E. Brandenburg, Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry of the Phoenix Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Chief Gorden Eden, Jr., of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) announced that Thomas Martinez, 26, of Albuquerque, N.M., was arraigned this morning on an indictment charging him with violating the federal carjacking and firearms laws.

During today’s proceeding, Martinez entered a not guilty plea to a four-count indictment that was filed on Aug. 11, 2015, and charged him with two counts of carjacking and two counts of brandishing and discharging a firearm during a carjacking.  According to court filings, Martinez committed all four crimes on July 22, 2015, in Bernalillo County, N.M., as he allegedly attempted to evade APD officers who were seeking to arrest him on a warrant arising out of an unrelated state court case.

According a criminal complaint filed on July 23, 2015, Martinez allegedly committed the first carjacking as he attempted to flee from officers conducting surveillance in the vicinity of a hotel in northeast Albuquerque.  Martinez allegedly ran to a Chevrolet sedan occupied by a driver and three children as the driver was entering a ramp onto Interstate 40.  Martinez allegedly brandished a firearm at the driver, pushed the driver into the passenger seat of the Chevrolet, and used the Chevrolet to continue his flight from the officers.  The children were able to get out of the vehicle before Martinez drove away with the driver.  An APD officer who was attempting to prevent the carjacking allegedly was dragged by the Chevrolet as Martinez drove away.  As Martinez continued his flight, the driver of the Chevrolet began to fight with Martinez in an effort to get him to stop the vehicle.  Martinez allegedly responded by discharging a firearm in an attempt to shoot the driver.  When Martinez slowed down, the driver was able to jump out of the Chevrolet.

The complaint further alleges that Martinez continued his flight in the Chevrolet and abandoned the vehicle in a neighborhood in southeast Albuquerque.  There Martinez allegedly forced his way into a Cadillac sedan occupied by an older man seated in the front passenger seat of the vehicle.  As Martinez began to drive away, another man confronted Martinez, got into the Cadillac, and began fighting with Martinez.  During the fight, Martinez allegedly attempted to discharge his gun at the man.  Shortly thereafter, the man was able to disarm Martinez, and Martinez was arrested by APD officers on state charges.

Martinez remained in state custody on related state charges until he was transferred to federal custody to face the charges in the federal indictment.

If convicted, Martinez faces a statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison on each of the carjacking charges.  If convicted on the first charge of brandishing and discharging a firearm, Martinez faces a statutory mandatory minimum of ten years in prison.  If convicted on the second brandishing and discharging count, he faces a mandatory minimum of 25 years in federal prison.  The sentences imposed on the firearms charges, 35 years, must be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on the carjacking charges.  Charges in indictments are merely accusations.  Defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.

This case was investigated by the ATF office in Albuquerque and APD with assistance from the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Mysliwiec is prosecuting the case 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 Bernalillo County, under this initiative.

Updated October 19, 2015