DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
James D. Tierney
, United States Attorney
Contact: Elizabeth M. Martinez

Two Albuquerque Men Sentenced for Convictions on Federal Drug Trafficking and Firearms Charges

Defendants Two of 104 Individuals Federally Charged as the Result of ATF-Led Investigation Pursued in Support of Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE – Two Albuquerque, N.M., men were sentenced yesterday for their convictions on federal firearms and drug trafficking charges.  Marcus Sowell, 19, was sentenced in Albuquerque to a year and a day in prison followed by two years of supervised release for possession of an unregistered firearm.  Shawn Anthony Burns, 31, was sentenced yesterday in Santa Fe, N.M., to 60 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release for crack cocaine trafficking.
 
Sowell and Burns were arrested during an ATF-led investigation that resulted in the filing of 59 federal indictments and a federal criminal complaint charging 104 Bernalillo County residents with federal firearms and narcotics trafficking offenses.  The investigation began in mid-April 2016, when ATF personnel from throughout the country joined forces with federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies in New Mexico to combat the high rate of violent crime in the Albuquerque metropolitan area.  The investigators utilized a number of investigative techniques, including undercover operations, historical investigation and targeting of multi-convicted felons in possession of firearms.
The investigation was undertaken in support 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 collaborate 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 their prior criminal convictions with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.
 
Sowell and his co-defendants Damon Giles, 23, Michael Borrego, 25, Adrian Banks, 28, and Marcus Lewis, 27, were charged in a 12-count indictment filed on June 30, 2016.  The indictment charged the following:
  • Sowell with possession of a firearm not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR) and engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license on May 19, 2016;
  • Giles with being a felon in possession of a firearm on May 19, 2016;
  • Giles and Borrego with engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license on May 31, 2016;
  • Giles and Banks with engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license on June 7, 2016;
  • Banks with being a felon in possession of firearms on June 7, 2016;
  • Borrego with engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license on June 7, 2016 and June 10, 2016;
  • Giles and Lewis with distribution of cocaine on June 9, 2016;
  • Borrego with possession of a firearm not registered to him in the NFRTR on June 10, 2016;
  • Giles with engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license and being a felon in possession of firearms on June 13, 2016.
According to the indictment, the offenses were committed in Bernalillo County, N.M.\
 
On Nov. 4, 2016, Sowell pled guilty to possession of an unregistered firearm and admitted that on May 19, 2016, he possessed a firearm not registered to him in the NFRTR.
 
Burns was arrested in July 2016, on an indictment charging him with distributing crack cocaine on April 19, 2016, April 20, 2016, and April 29, 2016, in Bernalillo County.  On Dec. 9, 2016, Burns pled guilty to distributing crack cocaine and admitted that on April 29, 2016, he distributed 28 grams and more of crack cocaine. 
 
To date, 43 of the 104 defendants have entered guilty pleas, and 18 have been sentenced.  The remaining defendants have entered not guilty pleas.  Charges in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
 
These cases were investigated by the Albuquerque office of ATF.  The case against Sowell was prosecuted by Acting U.S. Attorney James D. Tierney and the case against Burns was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly A. Brawley.  
 
# # #
 
17-248
 
Field Division: Phoenix Field Division