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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Mexico
Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Thursday, June 29, 2023

Two Las Cruces Men Sentenced for Firearms Offenses

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Jeffrey C. Boshek II, Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), announced today that Ruben Martha, 42, of Las Cruces, and Pablo Vargas, 52, of Las Cruces, were sentenced to 21 months and 60 months respectively for their parts in a neighbor dispute which resulted in approximately 39 rounds being fired and Martha, and another individual, being shot.

A federal grand jury indicted Vargas and Martha on April 20, 2022. According to court records, on April 17, 2021, Vargas was attending a party at his parent’s home on Nevada Street in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Martha, who lived down the street, was returning to his home along with his girlfriend and his adult daughter, who were in separate cars, and slowed down as they navigated their way through the busy street. An angry exchange occurred during which an object was thrown at Martha’s car and a can was thrown through the open window of the car Martha’s daughter was driving. The daughter was struck by the can and injured.

When Martha reached his home and observed what had happened, he ran back down the street towards the Vargas residence but retreated to his house when he saw Vargas and others outside the home. Shortly thereafter, another neighbor arrived on scene. The neighbor parked on the street where he observed a group with firearms walking towards him from the Vargas residence. Gunfire was exchanged and the neighbor was struck in the head by a bullet, however he managed to flee the scene. Martha retrieved a shotgun from a trashcan on his property as Vargas and at least one other individual fired toward Martha’s residence. Martha chambered a round of ammunition in the shotgun but was struck in the chest.

Though originally not expected to survive his injuries, the neighbor has since recovered. Martha also recovered from his injuries.

In 1997, Vargas was convicted of shooting at or from a motor vehicle. Martha was convicted in 2000 of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and criminal damage to property, and in 2007 of shooting at a dwelling, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and felon in possession. As previously convicted felons, neither Vargas nor Martha can legally possess firearms or ammunition.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated this case with assistance from the Las Cruces Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Maria Armijo and Christopher McNair are prosecuting the case.

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