U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE NEWS
Manuel Chavira, 25, was charged on August 3 in a recently-unsealed federal criminal complaint. Chavira was charged with both carjacking and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating this case with the New Mexico State Police and other agencies that form the FBI’s Violent Crime Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eva Fontanez is prosecuting the case as part of Operation Legend, a new Department of Justice initiative to assist cities with persistently high crime rates. Operation Legend is a sustained and coordinated law enforcement initiative in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with state and local law enforcement to prosecute gun and dangerous crimes arising in the City of Albuquerque.
According to the criminal complaint, on July 18 , Chavira approached two female victims who were parked in their vehicle in the parking lot of a church at the San Jose De Armijo Cemetery in the South East area of Albuquerque. Chavira initially asked if he could charge his phone in the vehicle. As the phone would not charge, he asked to borrow the driver’s phone, ostensibly to find a tow truck for his vehicle. She complied, and he used the phone to make a number of calls.
After the driver exited her vehicle to remove a sweater from her trunk, however, Chavira brandished a firearm and told her that he needed to take her vehicle. The passenger protested, but the driver removed her keys from the ignition to give them to Chavira. Chavira reportedly then racked the slide on the firearm, an indication that he had chambered a round of ammunition. Chavira then pointed the firearm, shouting, “Do you want me to shoot her? Do you want me to shoot her?” Both victims fled, at which point they heard gunshots being fired.
The victims described the firearm as black and possibly .22 or .25 caliber. The victims were able to identify Chavira from photos as the suspect. Chavira left the scene driving the victims’ blue 2019 Honda Civic SI.
Chavira remains at large. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking information to help ascertain his whereabouts and bring about his arrest. He is 5’10”, weighs between 150 and 194 lbs. and has brown hair and eyes. Chavira has a bullet wound scar on his nose. Chavira has the following tattoos: “Josefina” on his left arm; “C.V.” on his right arm; “Ceci” in a heart on his chest; and three dots on his right wrist.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $1000 for information leading to Chavira’s arrest. Persons with information regarding Chavira’s location should contact the FBI at https://www.fbi.gov/tips.
Criminal complaints are only accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Chavira faces up to 15 years in prison for the carjacking offense and a consecutive sentence of 10 years to life in prison for the firearm offense.