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Press Release

Two Colorado Men Sentenced on Firearm and Drug Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that two Colorado Springs, Colorado, men were sentenced by Jeffrey L. Viken, U.S. District Court Judge.

On November 14, 2019, Joshua Cruz, age 30, was sentenced to 7 years in federal prison, followed by 4 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, for Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance.

On January 31, 2020, Billy Torrez, age 24, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, for Prohibited Person in Possession of a Firearm.

The charges related to Torrez, a previously convicted felon who is prohibited from possessing firearms, having a GSG, .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol in his vehicle, found when Torrez and Cruz came into contact with Rapid City police officers. Also found in the vehicle was methamphetamine, which Cruz admitted to being his. 

Drug trafficking is an inherently violent activity.  Firearms are tools of the trade for drug dealers.  It is common to find drug traffickers armed with guns in order to protect their illegal drug product and cash, and enforce their illegal operations.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of its renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and local communities to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see:

The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Rapid City Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Patterson prosecuted the case.

Torrez and Cruz were immediately turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Updated February 9, 2020

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods