DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Mexico

For Immediate Release

Monday, July 17, 2017
James D. Tierney
, United States Attorney
Contact: Elizabeth M. Martinez

Albuquerque Felon Pleads Guilty to Unlawful Possession of One Round of Ammunition

Prosecuted Under Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE – Steven Morales, 38, of Albuquerque, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court to violating the federal firearms laws by unlawfully possessing a round of ammunition.  At sentencing, Morales faces a maximum penalty of ten years of imprisonment unless the court determines that he is an armed career criminal.  In that event, Morales will face an enhanced sentence of a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment.
Morales is being prosecuted 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 primarily based on their prior criminal convictions for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.
Morales was arrested in July 2015, on an indictment charging him with being a felon in possession of ammunition on Jan. 28, 2015 in Bernalillo County, N.M.  According to the indictment, Morales was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because of his numerous felony convictions.  According to court filings, Morales has at least five felony convictions for offenses involving burglary, larceny, criminal damage, receiving stolen property, escape from jail, possession of methamphetamine, disarming a police officer, and aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer.
During today’s proceedings, Morales pled guilty to the indictment without the benefit of a plea agreement.  Morales remains in custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel A. Hurtado is prosecuting the case.
Phoenix Field Division