Ponce Prosecuted Pursuant to Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative
ALBUQUERQUE – Michael Scott Ponce, 38, of Albuquerque, N.M., made his initial appearance in federal court this morning on a criminal complaint charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Ponce waived his right to a detention hearing and will be detained pending trial.
The federal charge against Ponce was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, 2nd Judicial District Attorney Kari E. Brandenburg, Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry of the Phoenix Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Chief Gorden Eden, Jr., of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).
U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said that this case is being prosecuted as part 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 work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible. Because New Mexico’s violent crime rates, on a per capita basis, are amongst the highest in the nation, New Mexico’s law enforcement community is collaborating to target repeat offenders from counties with the highest violent crime rates, including Bernalillo County, under this initiative.
“Taking armed felons off our streets is our primary mission,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry. “I want to recognize the bravery of our agents and the officers of the Albuquerque Police Department for their commitment to pursuing dangerous armed felons.”
“The assistance of our federal law enforcement partners and the willingness of U.S. Attorney’s Office to pursue federal charges against repeat offenders are having a dramatic, positive impact in our city,” Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden said. “Working together, we are sending a message to repeat offenders that violent crime will not be tolerated.”
The criminal complaint alleges that Ponce unlawfully possessed a firearm and ammunition on June 27, 2015, in Bernalillo County, N.M. According to the criminal complaint, on June 27, 2015, APD officers who responded to reports of a shooting in downtown Albuquerque observed a vehicle driven by Ponce as it struck another vehicle as Ponce allegedly attempted to flee from the area. APD officers pursued Ponce into a residential neighborhood where they took him into custody. As they were arresting Ponce, the officers allegedly observed a firearm cartridge in Ponce’s vehicle. Before they arrested Ponce, the APD officers observed Ponce throw an item from his vehicle, and later found a semiautomatic pistol in the area where they had observed Ponce throw the object.
According to court records, on June 27, 2015, Ponce was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of two counts of aggravated assaults with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon causing great bodily harm, and trafficking a controlled substance in the Second Judicial Court for the State of New Mexico in Bernalillo County. Ponce also had a prior federal conviction on a cocaine trafficking charge. At the time of his arrest on June 27, 2015, Ponce was on supervised release after having served a sentence of incarceration on the federal conviction.
Ponce was arrested on June 27, 2015, on related state charges and remained in state custody until July 13, 2015, when he was transferred to federal custody. The state charges against Ponce will be dismissed in favor of federal prosecution.
If convicted of the charge in the criminal complaint, Ponce faces a statutory maximum penalty of ten years in federal prison. If the court determines that Ponce is an armed career criminal, he faces an enhanced sentence of a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison to a maximum of life imprisonment. Charges in criminal complaints are mere accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the ATF office in Albuquerque and APD with assistance from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Mysliwiec is prosecuting the case.