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SNM gang leader sentenced to life in prison

LAS CRUCES – The purported leader of the Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico gang, Anthony Ray Baca, was sentenced to life in prison and 120 months for his role in the murder of a prison inmate and conspiracy to murder two Corrections Department officials.

Anthony Ray Baca

The sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge James O. Browning on Wednesday included a “vulnerable victims” enhancement because Javier Molina was unable to protect himself when he was stabbed 43 times by several gang members in his prison cell at the Southern New Mexico Correctional facility just west of Las Cruces.

Baca, known as “Pup,” was convicted in March 2018 of ordering the hit on the 34-year-old fellow gang member in 2014 because Molina was cooperating with law enforcement. He was also convicted of conspiracy to murder the two Corrections Department officials.

During the sentencing, Molina’s mother told the court, “I’ve waited a long time for this.” Gloria Molina then turned to Baca and said, “I’ll never forgive you.” But she said she would no longer think about him.

“You’re like a bowel movement to me, something to be flushed,” she said.

Before the sentencing, Baca’s attorney Marc Lowry argued his client is already serving a life sentence for a 1989 murder, so the additional life sentence should be concurrent.

“What’s the point of adding life sentence on top of life sentence?” Lowry asked. “He’s not going to make it out of federal prison.”

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Armijo said the life sentences should be consecutive in recognition that a “separate life” had been taken. “This type of act as leader of the gang, he needs to be the example set,” she said.

Baca got a consecutive life sentence for Molina’s murder and 120 months for conspiracy in a failed murder plot to kill two high-level state prison officials, including Corrections Department Secretary Gregg Marcantel. The case led to an FBI crackdown on more than 100 SNM members and associates for violent crimes and racketeering.

Baca’s attorneys are appealing his conviction.