2nd defendant pleads guilty in drive-by shootings on homes of Democratic lawmakers

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A second defendant has pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with a series of drive-by shootings at the homes of state and local lawmakers in Albuquerque after the 2022 election, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

Demetrio Trujillo pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy, election interference and firearms-related charges, officials said. The 42-year-old will remain in custody pending sentencing, which has not been scheduled.

Raul Bujanda, special agent in charge of the FBI Albuquerque field office, announced the developments in a news release.

Federal and state prosecutors allege that the attacks were orchestrated by former Republican candidate Solomon Peña following his electoral defeat in November 2022, as he made unfounded claims that the vote had been rigged against him.

Peña maintains his innocence. His trial scheduled for June.

The attacks on the homes of four Democratic officials, including the current state House speaker, took place in December 2022 and January 2023. The came amid a surge of threats and acts of intimidation against elections workers and public officials across the country after former President Donald Trump and his allies spread false claims about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Demetrio’s son Jose Louise Trujillo previously pleaded guilty to illegal use of a firearm in connection with the shootings, as well as fentanyl possession with the intent to distribute.

Alexander Uballez, the U.S. attorney in Albuquerque, has said the shootings targeted the homes of two county commissioners shortly after and because of their certification of the 2022 election, in which Peña lost his bid to serve in the state Legislature. No one was injured, but in one case bullets passed through the bedroom of a state senator’s 10-year-old daughter.

Following the shootings, New Mexico state lawmakers enacted legislation that provides felony sanctions for intimidation of election regulators and allows some public officials and political candidates to keep their home address off government websites.

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