For Immediate Release
Thomas Martinez Pleads Guilty to Federal Carjacking and Firearms Charges
Plea Agreement Requires Imposition of Prison Sentence in the Range of 20 to 35 Years; Prosecution Brought Pursuant to Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative
ALBUQUERQUE – U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, 2nd Judicial District Attorney Kari E. Brandenburg, Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry of the Phoenix Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Chief Gorden Eden, Jr., of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) announced today that Thomas Martinez, 26, of Albuquerque, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to federal carjacking and firearms charges. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Martinez will be sentenced within the range of 20 to 35 years in prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court
The U.S. Attorney said that Martinez was being prosecuted as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution. “As a general matter, this initiative targets violent and repeat offenders based on their prior criminal convictions. Periodically, we prosecute individuals who do not have any prior convictions because they are alleged to have engaged in extraordinary violent conduct that seriously jeopardized the community’s safety,” said U.S. Attorney Martinez. “Federal prosecution of Martinez under the initiative is based on his one-day violent crime spree on July 22, 2015.”
Martinez was charged with carjacking and firearms offenses in a criminal complaint filed on July 23, 2015. He subsequently was indicted on Aug. 11, 2015, and charged with two counts of carjacking and two counts of brandishing and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. According to the indictment, Martinez committed all four crimes on July 22, 2015, in Bernalillo County, N.M., as he attempted to evade APD officers who were seeking to arrest him on a warrant arising out of an unrelated state court case.
Court filings reflect that Martinez committed the first carjacking as he attempted to flee from officers who were conducting surveillance in the vicinity of a hotel in northeast Albuquerque. Martinez ran to a sedan occupied by a driver and three children as the driver was entering a ramp onto Interstate 40. Martinez brandished a firearm at the driver, pushed the driver into the sedan’s passenger seat, and used the sedan to continue his flight from the officers. The children were able to get out of the vehicle before Martinez drove away with the driver. An APD officer who was attempting to prevent the carjacking was dragged by the Chevrolet as Martinez drove away. As Martinez continued his flight, the driver of the sedan attempted to get Martinez to stop the vehicle, and Martinez responded by discharging the firearm in an attempt to shoot the driver. When Martinez slowed down, the driver was able to jump out of the sedan.
Martinez continued his flight in the sedan and abandoned the vehicle in a neighborhood in southeast Albuquerque. There Martinez forced his way into another vehicle which was occupied by an older man seated in the front passenger seat. As Martinez began to drive away, another man confronted Martinez, got into the vehicle, and began fighting with Martinez. During the fight, Martinez attempted to discharge his gun at the man. Shortly thereafter, the man was able to disarm Martinez, and Martinez was arrested by APD officers on state charges.
Martinez was arrested on the federal charges on Oct. 7, 2015, after he was transferred from state custody to federal custody. The related state charges against Martinez have been dismissed in favor of federal prosecution.
During today’s proceedings, Martinez pled guilty to two counts of carjacking and one count of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. Martinez remains in federal custody pending his sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the ATF office in Albuquerque and APD with assistance from the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Mysliwiec is prosecuting the case as part of the “worst of the worst” anti-violence initiative. 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 for federal prosecution primarily based on prior criminal convictions with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible. Because New Mexico’s violent crime rates, on a per capita basis, are amongst the highest in the nation, New Mexico’s law enforcement community is collaborating to target repeat offenders from counties with the highest violent crime rates, including Bernalillo County, under this initiative.
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