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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 16, 2022

U.S. Attorney joins FBI in Albuquerque billboard campaign targeting violent crime

Billboards carry important message about the consequences of violating federal law

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico Fred J. Federici joined FBI Albuquerque Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda and local and state law enforcement partners to announce a new billboard campaign aimed at reducing violent crime.

The billboards’ message: “Gun crime = Federal time. No parole.”

“Our simple message today is for dangerous criminals who are responsible for driving up violent crime in Albuquerque,” said U.S. Attorney Federici. “And that message is that you should think twice if you are a convicted felon who chooses to carry a gun, or are a criminal who is drug trafficking or robbing people using a gun, because you could find yourself with a one-way ticket to federal court. This office vigorously enforces our federal laws, and we are resolved to both identifying the most dangerous criminals and determining the most just and effective avenue for prosecuting them. We are committed to restoring the sense of safety the people of Albuquerque so much deserve."

The U.S. Attorney and Special Agent in Charge were joined by local and state partners from the Violent Crime and Gang Task Force: Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina; Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales; and New Mexico Department of Public Safety Secretary Jason Bowie.

Below are the U.S. Attorney’s remarks from the event:

Thank you and good morning.

My name is Fred Federici. I am the United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico. We really appreciate you joining us here today for this message. It is an important community message for all of us.

I first want to thank FBI Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda. He and his staff committed to this public awareness campaign, and we are happy to be here with him today and with all our state and local partners.

Getting the message on this billboard out to those who need to hear it is just one part of the Department of Justice’s ongoing strategy to combat violent crime. That’s a strategy that I know you will be hearing more about in the months to come from the Department. But combating violent crime is something to which the United States Attorney’s Office has been over the past several years and is fully committed, as the SAC just told you.

Our simple message today is targeted at felons who possess guns, carjackers, people holding up businesses with guns, bank robbers, and people trafficking drugs or committing other violent crimes and choosing to do that with guns. And our simple message to them is this: If you want to find yourself staring down the barrel of a federal indictment, then commit just one of the federal crimes I just listed and you will find yourself with a one-way ticket to federal court.

So, for example, if you have spent time in the past in a jail cell or a prison cell wearing government-issued orange coveralls and you get out and you decide that it’s still a good idea to possess a gun, then know that you may well find yourself on the working end of a federal indictment. We have federal prosecutors standing by ready to do just that.

And let me be very clear about the potential federal penalties that just some of these crimes carry that are implicated by this billboard behind me.

For example, if you illegally possess a firearm as a prohibited person, like a convicted felon, that’s a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in a federal prison. Depending on the violence of your criminal history, you could be facing a mandatory minimum of 15 years in a federal prison cell for possessing that firearm.

Or if you decide to carry or use a firearm during a violent crime or drug trafficking crime, by federal law you can face a minimum of five years in prison and up to life in prison, and that’s on top of the penalty that you’re going to face for the underlying crime that’s attached to it. If you actually choose to brandish a firearm during that crime, well then guess what: it’s a minimum of seven years in federal prison on top of the penalty for the underlying crimes.

And if you are so foolish as to decide to discharge a firearm during such a crime, it’s a minimum of 10 years that you might get to spend sitting in a federal prison on top of the penalty that you will get for the underlying crime.

And finally, if you have certain prior convictions, you could be facing a minimum penalty as high as 25 years in a federal prison.

As our SAC just told us, offenders should also be aware that the FBI’s Violent Crime Task Force, which we put together in Albuquerque, and by “we,” I mean everybody standing up here - the Sheriff, APD, the FBI, the DPS, New Mexico State Police, everybody, and others – the FBI Violent Crime Task Force that has been put together in Albuquerque is formidable and it includes federal, state and local officers. And almost every single day prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office who lead our Project Safe Neighborhood initiative work together with our state counterparts to try to identify the most dangerous offenders. That’s the goal here: to try to identify the most dangerous offenders on the streets of Albuquerque and find the most just and effective venue for prosecuting them.

Those for whom the message on this billboard is intended should also be on notice that for the last few years we have developed the strongest working relationship that I know of over my 27 years of being a prosecutor in New Mexico. The strongest working relationship we have ever had with our state and local counterparts in this district. We are all fully committed to this fight.

In fact, since mid-2017 we have brought literally hundreds of cases involving some of the most dangerous offenders arrested by the Albuquerque Police Department over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution. So these billboards should serve notice to those who need to hear it that we are here to vigorously enforce federal criminal laws.

Like you, all of us live here, all of us work here. Like you, all of our families live here, go to school here and work here. And we do not think it’s acceptable that there are criminals who think that they own the streets of Albuquerque, because they don’t. Our families should not have to go to bed at night used to hearing police helicopters flying overhead trying to catch dangerous criminals or hearing gunshots from our back yards.

So, I can assure you that we are fully committed to doing everything we can to help our state counterparts restore the sense of safety that the people of Albuquerque so much deserve.

Thank you.

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Updated February 27, 2022