Sample Block

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Northern District of Iowa

For Immediate Release

Monday, September 14, 2011

Stephanie M. Rose, United States Attorney

Contact: Tim Duax
(712) 255-6011

Storm Lake Man Sent to Federal Prison for Firearm Possession

A Storm Lake man was sentenced September 9, 2011, to nine years in federal prison for his illegal possession of a firearm.

Benjamin Mendez, Jr., age 29, of Storm Lake, Iowa, received his prison term after a June 20, 2011, guilty plea to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Benjamin Mendez, Jr., has a long criminal history including three felony offenses: (1) Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver in Buena Vista County, Iowa on January 12, 2009; (2) Burglary in the 3rd Degree in Buena Vista County, Iowa on November 13, 2000; and (3) Burglary in the 3rd Degree in Buena Vista County, Iowa on January 10, 2000. He also has a history of violence including an aggravated misdemeanor conviction for Assault With A Weapon in Buena Vista County, Iowa on May 27, 2003. Each of the felony convictions precluded Mendez from lawfully possessing any firearms or ammunition.

Information provided by the United States at the sentencing and change of plea hearings revealed that on June 27, 2010, Mendez possessed, and repeatedly shot, a semi-automatic handgun within a residential neighborhood in Storm Lake, Iowa. When officers of the Storm Lake Police Department responded to the scene, defendant repeatedly refused the lawful orders of the officers before ultimately surrendering.

Mendez was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett. Mendez was sentenced to 108 months' imprisonment. A special assessment of $100 was imposed. He must also serve a three year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

Mendez is being held in the United States Marshal's custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

Court file information is available at The case file number is 11-4020.

The case is being prosecuted as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a cooperative local, state, and federal program aimed at the enhanced prosecution of gun crimes. The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Buena Vista County Sheriff's Office; and the Storm Lake Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Forde Fairchild.