Two Albuquerque men arraigned on charges relating to the killing of a federal witness
(STL.News) Robert “Fat Head” Padilla, 45, and Gary Coca, 49, both of Albuquerque, were arraigned in federal court on April 27 on a four-count indictment charging them with retaliation against a witness. Padilla was further charged with one count of killing while engaged in drug trafficking, one count of using, carrying, brandishing, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime and causing death through use of the firearm, and one count of tampering with a witness, victim or informant by physical force or threat. Both defendants will remain in custody pending trial, which has not been scheduled.
A federal grand jury indicted Padilla and Coca on April 20. According to the indictment and other court records, from about Sept. 17, 2018, to Sept. 10, 2019, Padilla allegedly engaged in trafficking cocaine, cocaine base, heroin and fentanyl. On July 22, 2019, Padilla and Coca allegedly killed a man who was a former federal witness in Las Vegas, New Mexico, in retaliation for the victim providing information to law enforcement. Around Nov. 25, 2020, Padilla allegedly used physical force against John Doe in an attempt to influence, delay and prevent John Doe from communicating to law enforcement information relating to drug trafficking and the murder of a federal witness.
An indictment is only an allegation. A defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Padilla and Coca face up to life in prison or death.
The FBI investigated this case with assistance from the New Mexico State Police, New Mexico Corrections Department and Las Vegas Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Las Cruces Branch Office are prosecuting this case as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force program, a nationwide Department of Justice program that combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations.