A former Republican candidate from New Mexico paid to gun

A former Republican candidate from New Mexico paid to gun down the homes of Democratic officials

“I am the MAGA king,” wrote Solomon Peña last November. With this sentence, the then candidate for a seat in the New Mexico Congress there joined the movement of supporters of Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again. During the campaign, the Republican politician with Latino roots vowed to defend conservative values ​​he believes are under threat: freedom of expression, the right to arms and family values. Peña, 39, was arrested by a special team from the Albuquerque Police Department on Monday afternoon. Authorities blame him for ordering four shootings in the homes of Democrat opponents after receiving just 2,000 votes and losing by 47 points in the election.

Police have claimed that Peña, who has been spreading various lies about the election process, paid four men to attack the residence of Democratic officials with bullets. He paid each of them $500 in cash. According to authorities, the Republican was involved in at least one of the attacks, which took place between December 4 and January 3. Among those affected are Adriann Barboa and Debbie O’Malley, two district commissioners whose duties include confirming the results of local elections. The home of Javier Martinez, the Speaker of the local House of Commons, and Senator Linda Lopez, whose home had 12 gunshot wounds in early 2023, were also attacked, three of them in the room of Lopez’s daughter, 10 years old. Bullets pierced the walls and ceiling, but the minor was unharmed.

“This radicalism is a threat to our city, our state and our nation. We will continue to fight hate in all its forms to stop political violence,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said after Peña’s arrest.

Authorities believe they have a strong case against Peña, whom they accuse of conspiring to commit a crime and gundown a home in a moving vehicle. They rely on the evidence they have gathered over the past few weeks. These include testimonies from witnesses to the attacks, cell phone recordings, bullet casings recovered from houses attacked, and various images captured by surveillance cameras from politicians’ homes. Police also have a selfie Peña took with one of the shooters, José Trujillo.

Trujillo was at least involved in the attack on Senator Lopez’s home. The defendant poses in one of the pictures in the hands of the court, biting into a hamburger. In the other hand he holds a revolver. The shooter is seated at a desk where four other firearms and several chargers are on display. In another photo, he’s on the phone in a car while Peña sits next to him, smiling.

Solomon Peña, left, poses for a selfie with José Trujillo, who shot and killed the home of a local senator January 3 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.Solomon Peña, left, poses for a selfie with Jose Trujillo, who shot and killed the home of a local senator January 3 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Albuquerque Police Department

Subscribe to EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.

Subscribe to

According to court documents, Pena took part in the December 3 shooting but was unable to fire because his semi-automatic weapon jammed. The 12 shots fired at midnight that day came from the Glock of Trujillo, who was arrested six kilometers from the incident and whose gun and about 800 fentanyl pills were found in his car. “Solomon had asked to check in lower and around 8 p.m. because residents would not lie down,” says the complaint, which does not identify who is citing Peña’s request. In the first three attacks, the shots were fired at the upper parts of the houses because the men who shot were afraid of killing someone.

The events that rocked the politics of New Mexico, a Democrat-ruled state, have brought Peña’s troubled past to light. The prisoner today spent nine years in prison, where he was serving a sentence on 19 counts of robbery. Authorities had identified him in 2007 as a member of a gang dedicated to stealing electronics and other products from various shops and department stores. He left prison in March 2016 and regained his political rights in 2021 after serving five years of probation.

Peña will appear in court again this Wednesday. His appearance will start the court case against him, aided by a deepthroat claiming to have witnessed the crimes and been present at some of the attacks. This accomplice, now an ally with the authorities, claims Peña also had a father and son, both criminals, and hired a couple of brothers to carry out the other shootings. The Republican Party, which nominated him for a seat in the 14th District, has called for him to be tried to the fullest extent of the law.

The former candidate faced rival Miguel Garcia, a veteran Democratic politician who has served in the local House of Representatives since 1997 and is seeking re-election. García prevailed in the Nov. 8 vote by 5,600 votes, 74% of the total. Peña never accepted the election result and claimed fraud that he was never able to prove. The lawsuit alleges the politician turned up unannounced at the homes of three county commissioners and a local senator to present his case.

“He complained because he believed he had been the victim of fraud,” said police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos on Monday. “He is an election denier who does not want to accept the result,” added the spokesman. One of the visits to the officials’ apartments got into a bitter discussion. Filming began a short time later. Investigators say Peña texted the addresses of his targets.

In mid-November, Peña took to social media. In his last tweet today, he posted a photo of himself surrounded by pro-Trump flags. Clad in a red sweatshirt with Trumpism on it, he proudly doubles down. “I never accepted my defeat in the race for Circle 14. Now I’m looking for my opportunities,” he wrote at the time. His option was violence.

Follow all international information on Facebook and Twitteror in our weekly newsletter.