U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Mexico
(505) 346-7274
August 17, 2015

Las Cruces Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Conspiracy and Firearms Charges

ALBUQUERQUE—Conrad Vasquez Salazar, 43, of Las Cruces, N.M., pleaded guilty this afternoon to conspiracy and firearms charges. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Salazar will be sentenced to 20 years in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, and Las Cruces Police Chief Jaime Montoya.

Conrad Vasquez Salazar (Salazar), Clifford Raymond Salas, and Andres Linares-Baca, 32, both of Las Cruces, and Thomas Vasquez Salazar (Vasquez Salazar), 39, of Odessa, Tex., were charged with violating the federal conspiracy, explosives and narcotics laws in a series of complaints and indictments, the first of which was filed in Sept. 2012. Salas, Salazar and Vasquez Salazar were charged with conspiracy and explosives charges that arose out of the firebombing of a tattoo parlor in Las Cruces on Aug. 31, 2012. Proceedings against Salazar were delayed by competency proceedings, and today, the court found him competent to stand trial.

During this afternoon’s proceedings, Salazar pled guilty to conspiracy and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. In entering the guilty plea, Salazar admitted that on Aug. 31, 2012, he conspired with other individuals to firebomb Irish Ink Tattoo. Salazar also admitted producing two Molotov cocktails at his residence and instructing two co-conspirators on how to use them to set fire to Irish Ink Tattoo in Doña Ana County. Salazar further admitted that on Sept. 22, 2012, he possessed a handgun and ammunition even though he previously had been convicted of residential burglary, conspiracy to commit first degree murder and aggravated battery on a peace officer and was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition.

In Sept. 2013, Vasquez Salazar entered a guilty plea to conspiracy and explosives charges; his sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled. Also in Sept. 2013, Linares-Baca pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and a heroin distribution charge; he was sentenced in Jan. 2014, to 15 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

On March 9, 2015, Salas proceeded to trial on a superseding indictment charging him with participating in a conspiracy between July 15, 20112 and Aug. 31, 2012, to commit arson by maliciously damaging and destroying the Irish Ink Tattoo, located at 2245 South Main Street in Las Cruces. The indictment also charged Salas with maliciously damaging and destroying the Irish Ink Tattoo on Aug. 31, 2012, by throwing at least one Molotov cocktail into the building, using a destructive device in furtherance of an act of violence; and being a felon in possession of an explosive. Trial against Salas concluded on March 11, 2015, when the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all four counts of the superseding indictment. He remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the FBI and the Las Cruces Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron O. Jordan and Marisa A. Lizarraga of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office are prosecuting the case.

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