Dozens face federal charges for guns, drugs in Operation Legend - Albuquerque Journal

Dozens face federal charges for guns, drugs in Operation Legend

As part of Operation Legend, Bernalillo County deputies and federal agents make arrests around Southeast Albuquerque in late August. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Authorities have slapped dozens of people with federal charges since Operation Legend deployed in Albuquerque last month, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

A DOJ news release says at least 35 people have been charged – largely on gun- and drug-related offenses – between July 22 and Aug. 31.

A spokesman for the Justice Department identified 16 of the 35 people arrested.

“By coordinating federal resources with state and local law enforcement, we’ve been able to identify, apprehend and prosecute individuals driving dangerous crime in the city,” John C. Anderson, U.S. attorney for the district of New Mexico, said in the release. “We can see from the charges brought under Operation Legend that we have been effective in meeting our objectives and we intend to continue this trend.”

According to the release, the suspects include:

⋄ 19 charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

⋄ 16 charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

⋄ 10 charged with being in possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

⋄ Nine charged with distribution of controlled substances.

⋄ Eight charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

⋄ Five charged with Hobbs Act violations.

⋄ Four charged with being in possession of a stolen firearm.

⋄ Three charged with brandishing of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime.

⋄ One each charged with carjacking, reentry of a removed alien; discharging a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime; and maintaining a drug-involved premises.

The cases reviewed by the Journal revolve around drug dealing and guns. According to federal court documents:

On July 18, Manuel Chavira, 25, allegedly carjacked two sisters at gunpoint inside San Jose de Armijo Cemetery. The sisters told agents he fired at them as they ran away, but investigators could not find any spent shells in the area.

On Aug. 14, Drug Enforcement Administration agents searched Alexavier Gutierrez’s car at the Ramada Inn on Yale and allegedly found a backpack with 730 grams of marijuana, a loaded rifle, 7.9 grams of cocaine and a scale. Gutierrez told agents the backpack was his but refused to say where the drugs came from.

On Aug. 20, a search of Elisha Muller’s home turned up more than $2,000, 38 grams of meth, 5 grams of heroin, 29 Suboxone strips and three pistols. Afterward, Muller told agents she sells drugs to “get by.”

On Aug. 23, Eugene Ouzts III was pulled over by Albuquerque police in reference to an aggravated assault and officers decided to impound the car for a later search after Ouzts – a felon – told them there was a gun inside. Between the time the car was impounded and searched, authorities say Ouzts’ tried to break into his car at the impound lot and tried to bribe the employees to get to the car. During an Aug. 30 search, authorities allegedly found 169 grams of heroin and a loaded pistol.

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