New Mexico man charged with carjacking as part of Operation Legend

Crime

Handcuffs sit on a table in this file photo. (Credit: Getty Images)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The U.S. Department of Justice is highlighting Operation Legend cases each weekday, and Tuesday’s case is that of Manuel Chavira out of Albuquerque. Twenty-five-year-old Chavira was charged on August 3, 2020, with carjacking and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence according to a criminal complaint filed in the District Court of New Mexico.

The FBI and New Mexico State Police launched an investigation and search for Chavira who surrendered in Las Cruces on August 20. According to a criminal complaint, Chavira approached two female victims who were in the parking lot of a church at San Jose De Armijo Cemetary in Albuquerque on July 18, 2020.

The complaint states that Chavira initially asked if he could charge his phone in the vehicle and as the phone wouldn’t charge, he then asked to borrow the driver’s phone in order to find a tow truck for his vehicle. After the driver complied, he then used the phone to make several calls.

After the driver exited her vehicle to remove a sweater from her trunk, Chavira allegedly pulled out a firearm and told her he needed to take her vehicle. According to the complaint, the passenger in the vehicle protested, however, the driver removed her keys from the ignition and gave them to Chavira.

Chavira allegedly then racked the slide on the firearm, indicating he chambered a round of ammunition. The complaint states Chavira then pointed the firearm, asking if the victim wanted him to shoot her.

Both victims fled and reportedly heard gunshots being fired. They were able to describe the firearm as black and possibly being a .22 or .25 caliber and were also able to identify Chavira from photos as the suspect. Authorities say Chavira left the scene driving the victims’ blue 2019 Honda Civic SI.

“Cases like this one are what Operation Legend is all about. The violent and unprovoked actions described in the complaint contribute to the growing perception that Albuquerque is a dangerous city in which violent crime continues unchecked and out of control,” said U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson for the District of New Mexico in a statement. “Operation Legend sends a strong message that federal law enforcement, working in concert with their state and local partners, will not stand idly by while the residents of Albuquerque live in fear of falling victim to senseless violence. I commend the FBI and the New Mexico State Police for their seamless investigation and diligent pursuit of this defendant.”

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