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As a witness against a violent state of New Mexico prison gang, shot dead outside home

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As a former member of a violent New Mexico, a prison gang who had testified against some of its members over the past year, was shot and killed outside his home earlier this week, authorities said.

Las Vegas, N. M., police told the Albuquerque Journal reported that the 48-year-old Leroy “Smurf” Lucero, a former member of the Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico (SNM), who was shot multiple times on the evening of the 22nd of July.

The Las Vegas police department detective, Caleb Marquez, told the newspaper that the motive for the murder is yet to be determined, and no one has been arrested.

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“We have no reason to believe that someone else is in danger,” he added.

In May 2018, Lucero testified about the SNM of crimes, including a directive that led to the 2001 strangulation death of two inmates at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Las Cruces — in the trial of the seven suspects. The murders had gone unprosecuted until the FBI began to build a racketeering case against the gang in the year 2015.

The defendants, Joe Gallegos, and Billy Garcia were found guilty of the murder, and while Garcia, who was convicted and sentenced to the second death. Both of them have been convicted and sentenced to life in federal prison in the last month.

Lucero said it had been transferred to a different prison, when the crimes were committed, but that he was aware of the fact that they were supposed to, according to the Journal. The FBI case agent Bryan Acee testified that Lucero was a senior member of the gang, but left around 2007 or 2008.

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“I threw in the towel in the ring,” Lucero said.

The federal prosecutors were aware of the gang’s potential to retaliate against the witnesses.

“If you snitch, you get killed,” one witness said on the stand.

The FBI investigated the threats against the family of an other, a witness against the mob. This past summer, ” Lucero told a federal judge he did not want to testify in an extortion case against Anthony “Antone” Cordova.

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“Someone came to the door with a gun asking for a Smurf,” Lucero’s attorney, told the judge.

He was allowed to leave without taking to the witness box. Cordova was convicted of racketeering and murder charges in July of 2018 and is facing a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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