Solomon Peña, a former Republican candidate for the New Mexico House of Representatives, has been charged with several federal offenses in connection with drive-by shootings at the homes of Democratic officials, the Justice Department said Wednesday.
The authorities in New Mexico have said that Mr. Peña, 40, orchestrated the shootings at the homes of four Democratic officials in the weeks after he lost an election bid in November 2022. No one was injured in the attacks.
Mr. Peña, who was arrested in January, already faces several state charges, including attempted aggravated battery and shooting at an occupied building. The federal charges against him and two other people — Demetrio Trujillo, 41, and Jose Trujillo, 22 — were unsealed in a court in New Mexico on Wednesday and include several firearms offenses and interference with federally protected activities.
Mr. Peña would face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 60 years if he were to be convicted of the federal charges, the Justice Department said in a statement.
“There is no room in our democracy for politically motivated violence, especially when it is used to undermine election results,” Kenneth A. Polite Jr., the assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in the statement.
Roberta Yurcic, a lawyer who has represented Mr. Peña at the state level, did not immediately respond to requests for comment overnight. The state trial is expected to start early next year.
Mr. Peña was convicted of burglary and larceny in 2008 and served nearly seven years in prison in New Mexico. He was released in 2016.
After the November 2022 midterm elections, Mr. Peña refused to concede even after losing by a wide margin to an incumbent in a district that has long voted for Democrats. Prosecutors say that he also visited the homes of several county commissioners to urge them not to certify the results.
The shootings at the four Democratic officials’ homes took place in December and early January. Two of the officials had certified the election results.
Prosecutors say that Mr. Peña hired others to carry out the shootings, and that he took part in at least one of them — by trying to fire an AR-15 rifle at the home of Linda Lopez, a state senator.
The shootings rattled New Mexico’s political establishment. They also stoked growing concerns nationwide about political violence after an attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and a conspiracy to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, among other incidents.
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