West Columbia Resident Pleads Guilty to Being an Illegal Alien in Possession of a Firearm
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon stated today that Felix Martinez-Melquisdes, age 35, of West Columbia, South Carolina, has entered a guilty plea in federal court in Columbia, to possessing a firearm while being an illegal alien in the United States, a violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(a)(5)(A), 924(a)(2) and 924(e). United States District Chief Judge Terry L. Wooten of Columbia accepted the guilty plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report, which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Evidence was presented at the change of plea hearing to establish that Martinez was prohibited from possessing a firearm as the result of being a Mexican citizen who had entered and was living in the United States illegally. The investigation of Martinez began as the result of email and telephone conversations Martinez had with a girl in Kentucky that he had had a relationship with from 7th to 12th grade. The girl was about to graduate from high school and Martinez wanted to pick her up and take her to South Carolina but she did not want to go. Martinez responded by threatening to attend the graduation and shoot everyone there. This resulted in an arrest warrant for Terrorist Threats being issued in Kentucky. Graduation was scheduled for May 19, 2018 and agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) arrested Martinez at his job on May 16. At the time of his arrest Martinez was carrying a loaded Glock .40 caliber pistol. U. S. Attorney Lydon stated the maximum penalty for Illegal Alien in Possession of a Firearm is imprisonment for up to 10 years, supervised release of 5 years and/or a fine of $250,000.
This case was investigated by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, SLED, the Department of Homeland Security and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state and local Project CeaseFire initiative, which aggressively prosecutes firearm cases. Project CeaseFire is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority. In October 2017, as part of a series of actions to address this crime trend, Attorney General Sessions announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy that incorporates the lessons learned since PSN launched in 2001. Assistant United States Attorney William E. Day, II of the Columbia office is prosecuting the case.