Colorado Springs Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Federal Prison for Drug and Gun Crimes, as well as Carjacking
DENVER – Miguel Lerma Cruz, aka Danny Ortega, age 39, of Colorado Springs, pled guilty to drug and gun crimes, as well as carjacking, and was then sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson to serve 25 years in federal prison, U.S. Attorney Jason R. Dunn and ATF Denver Special Agent in Charge Debbie Livingston announced. Cruz appeared at yesterday’s hearing in custody, and was remanded at its conclusion.
Cruz was first charged by criminal complaint on October 17, 2017. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on October 26, 2017. He pled guilty and was sentenced on November 29, 2018.
According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, on May 29, 2017, Colorado Springs police were dispatched to a report of a disturbance at the El Ranchito Meat Market in Colorado Springs. A woman called police and stated that the defendant had threatened her at the market. He reached for his waistline and held what appeared to be the handle of a firearm. After the defendant left the store, the victim called police.
Officers arrived and observed the defendant in his white Dodge pickup truck in the parking lot. When officers attempted to contact the defendant, he slammed into a marked police patrol vehicle, drove past a uniformed patrol officer and another marked police patrol vehicle, and fled the scene. Officers initiated a vehicle pursuit. During the pursuit, which occurred over a considerable distance through heavily populated areas of the city, the defendant refused to stop. He ran a red light and struck two vehicles. The defendant’s white Dodge pickup truck was disabled because of the collision. The defendant got out of his truck, dropping a 9mm handgun onto the ground. He was carrying an AR-15 type rifle and ran up to a woman sitting in an Acura sedan. He then took her car and fled. Officers continued to pursue the defendant, but eventually lost him.
Detectives recovered the defendant’s Dodge pickup at the scene of the crash and recovered a 9mm handgun just outside of the driver’s door. This firearm was reported as stolen from a residence in Brattleboro, Vermont. Police also recovered a blue tote bag that contained 270.7 grams of heroin and 623.6 grams of methamphetamine, as well as $20,000 in cash and ammunition.
Police recovered an additional $10,000 in cash in the center console. Subsequent investigation revealed that the Saturn sedan that the defendant had parked earlier in the day contained a Ruger Mini 14 rifle and a loaded magazine for an AR-15 rifle in the trunk. They also recovered another loaded AR-15 magazine in the front passenger seat, a gun cleaning kit, a plastic bag with a personal use amount of cocaine, three boxes of 12 gauge shotgun shells, one box of 9mm ammunition, and four spent .40 shell casings. The .40 shell casings were analyzed and matched two earlier shootings, including a homicide.
On June 1, 2017, detectives located the defendant in a white Camaro in Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs Police Department Tactical Enforcement Unit officers took the defendant into custody. After obtaining a search warrant for the Camaro, detectives located approximately $4,000 and an AR-15 style rifle with a sawed-off handle.
“The defendant went on a crime spree, injuring some, endangering others, and rightfully will spend the next 25 years in prison,” said U.S. Attorney Jason R. Dunn. “The Colorado Springs Police Department and the ATF did an outstanding job working to identify, locate, and arrest this dangerous individual.”
“Cruz was a threat to the community. We are proud to have put him behind bars for a very long time,” said Debbie Livingston, ATF Denver Special Agent in Charge. “We would like to thank the Colorado Springs Police Department patrol division, robbery unit and tactical enforcement unit. They were essential in this investigation. Our partnership with them is truly a force multiplier in combating violent crime.”
This case was investigated by the ATF with substantial assistance from the Colorado Springs Police Department.
The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily May.
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