Police investigating campaign contributions to New Mexico man accused of orchestrating shootings at Democratic rivals' homes
Officials are investigating the source of campaign contributions to Solomon Pena, the failed Republican candidate for New Mexico State House who allegedly orchestrated shootings at the homes of multiple Democratic rivals.
Questions about the campaign donations arose during their investigation into Pena's actions, the Albuquerque Police Department said in a statement. He currently faces 15 charges, including multiple felonies, for paying accomplices to rake the homes of two state legislators and two county commissioners with gunfire.
Detectives "uncovered potential illegal activity related to monetary contributions" that Pena solicited during his campaign. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said that Pena ran on a "Make America Great Again" platform and called him a "right wing radical" and "election denier." Pena falsely claimed that his race, which he lost in a landslide to incumbent Democratic state Rep. Miguel P. Garcia, was "rigged."
One of the suspects in the shootings, Jose Trujillo, donated $5,150 to Pena's 2022 campaign. Trujillo's mother, Melanie Griego, donated another $4,000. These two donations "represent nearly 40% of the money raised by Pena," the APD said.
Trujillo was arrested on Jan. 3 on a felony warrant the same night as one of the shootings that Pena allegedly orchestrated. He was found with two firearms, several magazines of ammunition, nearly 900 fentanyl pills, and more than $3,000 inside his vehicle. Trujillo was charged with the outstanding warrant and for trafficking in narcotics.
One of the guns was later connected to the early January shooting at State Sen. Linda Lopez's home. No one was harmed in the shooting, but bullet debris did fall on Lopez's 10-year-old daughter after a bullet entered the child's bedroom wall.
Albuquerque detectives also "learned through witness interviews" that Pena had "identified individuals to funnel contributions from an unknown source to his legislative campaign."
"Detectives are working with other law enforcement agencies to determine whether the money for the campaign contributions were generated from narcotics trafficking, and whether campaign laws were violated," police said.
Another suspect in the shootings was taken into custody on Jan. 9, but it's unclear whether that person is an accomplice in the case.
Pena, who was arrested on Jan. 16, remains in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center after making his first court appearance on Wednesday. He has been denied bond and will remain jailed until at least his next hearing.
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