Career criminal gets 15 years under anti-violence initiative for firearm charges

A 42-year-old man from Albuquerque, New Mexico, will spend the next 15 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release for illegally possessing a firearm.

Joe Ray Alires pleaded guilty last month to the charge of Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition. According to an indictment filed in November 2014, Alires was found carrying a loaded Sig Sauer P226 9mm semiautomatic handgun, along with 15 rounds of 9mm ammunition in June of the same year.

Alires was prohibited from possessing either the gun or ammo due his prior criminal history which reflected 10 felony convictions including residential and commercial burglary, possession of a controlled substance, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of a deadly weapon or explosive by a prisoner.

Alires was prosecuted under a federal anti-violence initiative that targets criminals dubbed “the worst of the worst.” According to the Justice Department, under the initiative, Assistant U.S. Attorneys work alongside District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies “to target criminals who commit a disproportionate amount of crime in their communities.”

However, in a sentencing memorandum, Assistant Federal Public Defender Michael A. Keefe, who represented Alires, said that while his client did have a lengthy criminal history, it was important to note the convictions stemmed from property crimes and Alires had never been convicted of any acts of violence.

Keefe also detailed what he described as Alires’ upbringing in “an extremely unstable family environment” and “totally dysfunctional family situation” that was marked by frequent abuse at the hands of an alcoholic father. Alires, who was eventually removed from his home as a child by the State of New Mexico and lived in multiple group homes, was diagnosed with both depression and anxiety for which he receives psychiatric medications.