Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Second co-conspirator in Solomon Peña case pleads guilty

A father-son duo have admitted to conspiring with a candidate for the New Mexico House of Representatives to violently interfere with the 2022 midterm election.

Demetrio Trujillo and his attorney on Thursday signed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors admitting his guilt to five criminal charges related to a series of shootings in Albuquerque in late 2022 and early 2023.

He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, two counts of election interference, one count of using a gun to commit a crime, and one count of firing that gun.

His son, Jose Louise Trujillo, pleaded guilty to his own set of five charges on Jan. 9. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy, one count of election interference, one count of using a gun during a crime, and one count of possessing fentanyl with intent to distribute.

Solomon Peña, the House candidate who is accused of orchestrating the shootings, is scheduled to go to trial in June on charges of conspiracy and election interference, along with gun and drug charges.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque is prosecuting the case alongside the U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, which handles election crimes.

According to a news release, the case is part of the DOJ’s Election Threats Task Force, whose purpose is “to address threats of violence against election workers, and to ensure that all election workers — whether elected, appointed, or volunteer — are able to do their jobs free from threats and intimidation.”

Peña met the Trujillos through a group of four other co-conspirators whom federal prosecutors have not identified, according to the Trujillos’ plea agreements.

At some point after the 2022 election, the Trujillos said Peña told them and others “the election was rigged against him,” the plea agreements state. Peña has never conceded the election results.

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The plea agreements outline new details in the scheme.

Jose Louise Trujillo had helped Peña’s campaign, including accepting money to let him use his bank account to channel just over $5,000 to his campaign.

The day before the election, Peña decided to pressure Bernalillo County commissioners to refuse to certify the election results. “He paid me to help, and I agreed,” Demetrio Trujillo wrote.

On Nov. 12, 2022, Peña gave Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa’s address to Jose Louis Trujillo and paid him to break windows and slash tires at her home.

Five days later, Trujillo at Peña’s direction gave Barboa’s address to his father, understanding Peña wanted more help intimidating the victims “because they served as election officials or because they had been candidates for elective office.”

On Nov. 21, 2022 the commissioners voted to certify Peña’s loss. The same day, he and the Trujillos “determined to move forward with (Peña’s) plan to intimidate his political targets.”

On Dec. 4, 2022, Peña paid Demetrio Trujillo to shoot a gun from his car at Barboa’s home, because Barboa had served as an election official and because they had been a political candidate.

Four days later, Peña paid Demetrio Trujillo to shoot a gun from his car at the home of New Mexico House Speaker Javier Martinez, to intimidate him from campaigning.

On Dec. 11, 2022, Peña and Jose Louise Trujillo drove to the home of former Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley. They targeted O’Malley because of her position on the commission, Trujillo wrote.

“Peña provided a gun which I fired at the residence,” he wrote.

Then on Jan. 3, 2023, Peña and the Trujillos drove to the home of Sen. Linda Lopez and carried out a shooting intended to intimidate her, too.

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Later that day, a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputy pulled over Jose Louise Trujillo as he was driving Peña’s Nissan Maxima.

The deputy searched the car and found two handguns, one of which had a drum magazine and was fully automatic, and about 85 bullets, which Peña and the Trujillos “had used to carry out the shooting just prior to my arrest.” Deputies also found about 893 fentanyl pills and $3,036 in cash.

Both Trujillos could be sentenced to life in prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. So long as they continue to cooperate with authorities and commit no more crimes, they could receive slightly shorter sentences.

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