Pueblo man sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for drug, gun crimes

A Pueblo man was sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Kenneth Baca, 44, of Pueblo, was sentenced to 190 months in federal prison by Judge Regina M. Rodriguez.

On October 12, 2021, Pueblo police detectives were investigating Baca after receiving an anonymous tip that he was selling a large amount of drugs. An undercover detective messaged Baca via Facebook messenger and Baca agreed to sell heroin and methamphetamine, police said.

The undercover officer and Baca agreed to meet at Baca’s hotel room in Pueblo on Oct. 13.

Officers said they watched Baca pull into the parking lot in a truck with no front license plate and an expired registration. Baca also didn’t have a valid driver’s license, according to the U.S. District Attorney's Office. Officers conducted a traffic stop and patted Baca down for weapons. Baca allegedly told them he had a pistol in his right pants pocket. Baca was immediately arrested and the firearm was retrieved from his pants.

A search of the truck found a backpack containing methamphetamine, fentanyl, heroin, a digital scale, $1,746, a notebook that appeared to be a drug ledger, and a wallet containing Baca’s ID cards.

In the motel room registered to Baca, officers recovered fentanyl, methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, a suspected drug ledger, and $1,018.

Baca was also not allowed to own a firearm at the time of the arrest.

“This defendant repeatedly committed crimes with no regard for the law," said U.S. District Attorney Cole Finnegan. "The fact that the defendant was on supervised release when he committed these crimes exemplifies this solemn reality. This sentence achieves the goals of deterring such criminal conduct, while simultaneously protecting our community from drugs and weapons,”

The investigation was conducted by the FBI Denver Division and the Pueblo Police Department. Prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Warhola and the Transnational Organized Crime and Money Laundering Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Mark Michalek emphasized the importance of the FBI's relationship with local law enforcement.

"This sentencing highlights the collaboration and teamwork between the FBI and our law enforcement partners like the Pueblo Police Department, whose efforts were instrumental in this case," he said.

"FBI Denver remains committed to working closely with the Pueblo Police Department to ensure that dangerous criminals are no longer menacing the public."

10th Judicial District Attorney Jeff Chostner also emphasized the importance of partnerships between Pueblo County law enforcement and federal agencies.

"We very much value our partnership with all federal agencies to help make Pueblo a safer place. Be it the ATF, FBI, or U.S. attorney, we all work closely together as a team. This is just another example of how we conserve resources for the maximum desired effect — to help vindicate victims, try to make them whole, and get the bad actors off the streets of Pueblo County. We are all stronger because we work together, as this case shows."

Questions, comments, or story tips? Contact Justin at jreutterma@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter@jayreutter1.

This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Pueblo man sentenced to 15 years in prison for drug, gun crimes