For Immediate Release
Pueblo Law Enforcement and Federal Partners Attack Violent Crime
PUEBLO –The Pueblo Police Department (PPD), the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, and the Office of the District Attorney for the Tenth Judicial District have been partnering with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Attorney’s Office to disrupt gang activity, violent crime, and narcotics distribution in southern Colorado.
Under the partnership, rather than conducting law enforcement “sweeps,” targeted federal resources such as ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence Center are augmenting state and local enforcement efforts to take the people most disruptive to public safety off the Pueblo streets. This partnership among these agencies has resulted in several joint state / federal investigations and closely coordinated prosecutions, including the prosecution of these 16 defendants on federal criminal charges:
United States v. Brenden Conrad Garcia, 16-cr-237-RBJ:
Between May 19, 2016, and June 7, 2016, Garcia committed numerous robberies affecting interstate commerce through the use of actual or threatened physical violence. The alleged robberies include the robbery of an I-Hop restaurant and the robbery of a Subway restaurant – both in Pueblo — and several others in Denver and Colorado Springs.
United States v. Leilani Ontiveras-Martinez and Colter Grant Martinez, 14-cr-00388-WJM:
On March 3, 2016, a federal jury in Denver found Leilani Ontiveras-Martinez, of Pueblo, guilty of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, three counts of distribution of a controlled substance, possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and being a felon in possession of ammunition. She is a Pueblo gang member and drug dealer. She was convicted of dealing heroin, methamphetamine, and crack cocaine. She also used a 12-gauge shotgun to protect her drug business. Ontiveras-Martinez faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison, and up to life imprisonment. She is scheduled to be sentenced on September 8, 2016.
Co-defendant Colter Grant Martinez pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm; conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance; possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. He has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison
United States v. Jeremiah Embrey, 15-cr-00410-WJM:
On June 29, 2016, Jeremiah Embrey was sentenced to 28 months’ federal imprisonment followed by 3 years’ supervised release after he pled guilty to robbing a 7-11 store at 905 W. Northern Avenue in Pueblo, Colorado. After pouring himself a soda, Embry pulled what appeared to be a handgun (later determined to be a pellet gun) from his pants and demanded money from the clerks.
United States v. Danny Lee Wilson, 16-cr-160-WYD
Wilson was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver in May 2016 with being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of heroin with the intent to distribute. PPD found Wilson with marijuana, suspected methamphetamine, heroin, over $2,000, and two stolen handguns. Wilson has a prior felony conviction for drug distribution and was on probation at the time he committed these offenses. The defendant is scheduled to plead guilty on August 4, 2016.
United States v. Dennis Rodriguez et. al., 16-cr-0225-RBJ
On March 30, 2016, law enforcement executed search warrants at five different residences in the West Pueblo area. At each of the five locations, investigators recovered hundreds of marijuana plants destined for distribution in other states. As a result of this investigation, Dennis Rodriguez, Richard Samples, Derek Brechbill, Nathaniel Clawson, Gary Bruce, Daniel Bingham and Angel Rodriguez were indicted by a federal grand jury on 13 counts of illegal manufacture and possession of marijuana, and various conspiracies to accomplish that end.
United States v. Daniel Garcia, 16-cr-98-CMA
On March 10, 2015, a federal grand jury indicted Daniel Garcia, of Pueblo, with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The investigation of that case was accomplished through careful coordination with the ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence Center’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. Garcia’s trial is set for October 24th.
United States v. Benjamin Miguel Acosta et. al., 15-cr-00475-RBJ
Benjamin Miguel Acosta, David Anthony Lizarraga and Damion Shata Morgan were indicted by a federal grand jury with, among other things, the theft of firearms from a federal firearms licensee. Acosta, Lizarraga, and Morgan burglarized RJC Firearms, LLC in Pueblo. They used the bolt cutters to get through the outer door and a sledge hammer to gain access to the interior of the business. Once inside, the defendants smashed glass display cases and stole 12 firearms. Defendants Acosta and Lizarraga have already pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Defendant Morgan is scheduled to enter a guilty plea on July 27, 2016.
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The success of this partnership is a result of these federal and local agencies collaborating closely, using cutting-edge investigative techniques and dedicated investigative teams, and coordinating to determine which cases are appropriate for federal versus state prosecution. The net result is an efficient, focused use of limited law enforcement resources to increase public safety in the community while also minimizing disruption within that community.
“Our partnerships with local and state prosecutors and law enforcement are invaluable,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “With them, we make communities safer while also building the communities’ trust and confidence in law enforcement.”
Chief Luis Velez from the Pueblo Police Department stated, “The ongoing relationship with our Federal law enforcement partners has always been a point of pride. The newly developed relationship with the United States Attorney’s Office has been unprecedented. Their interest in helping us prosecute our gang members has already proven to be incredibly successful. This is a totally different tactic than what we have employed in the past, but one that may be a model for other cities across the country”.
We have always enjoyed strong partnerships with law enforcement in Pueblo. By establishing the new southern Colorado Crime Gun Intelligence Center, we have committed additional technology, people and other investigative resources to remove violent crime and restore peace and security for citizens,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Ken Croke. “These prosecutions represent only the beginning of our fight against violent crime in Pueblo.”
"The FBI is pleased to take part in this unprecedented partnership. It will allow us to focus our specialized talents on helping Pueblo once again become a safe community for people to live, work and play, without the threat of random gang violence and criminal activity," said FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle.
All of the pending charges described above are only allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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