APD investigating if drug money funded Solomon Pena’s failed campaign

Detectives are looking into whether Solomon Pena used drug money to fund his campaign for a state House seat after a suspected trafficker and the trafficker’s mother were listed as some of Pena’s biggest campaign donors.

Gilbert Gallegos, an Albuquerque Police Department spokesman, said the investigation into Pena’s alleged plot to shoot up the homes of local lawmakers “uncovered potential illegal activity related to monetary contributions” to his campaign to represent District 14 in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

Pena is currently charged with four counts each of shooting at a dwelling, shooting at or from a motor vehicle and conspiracy to commit a shooting at a dwelling; and one count each of possession of a firearm by a felon, attempt to commit aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and criminal solicitation to commit a shooting at a dwelling.

Authorities allege Pena plotted drive-by shootings over the course of a month that targeted the homes of Democratic elected officials, Bernalillo County Commissioners Adriann Barboa and Debbie O’Malley, state Rep. Javier Martínez and state Sen. Linda Lopez. Police allege Pena, a Republican candidate, did so after losing his race and believing the election was “rigged.”

Gallegos said one of Pena’s alleged accomplices in the shootings, Jose Trujillo, donated $5,150 while Trujillo’s mother, Melanie Griego, donated $4,000 to Pena’s campaign.

According to court records, Griego was recently living in a mobile home on the West Side and getting rental assistance from Bernalillo County. Over the summer her landlord had filed a notice for eviction because she hadn’t paid her $135 a month rent and she had violated the lease and the Section 8 agreement. That case was ultimately dismissed.

Griego’s aunt told the Journal she was shocked to learn that Griego could afford to give thousands of dollars to a political candidate.

In the campaign filing report her occupation is listed as “mother/dependent.”

Gallegos said Trujillo, a suspected drug dealer allegedly found with thousands in cash, fentanyl pills and guns during a traffic stop this month, is listed as “cashier” in the contributions.

Gallegos said the contributions between Trujillo and Griego “represent nearly 40% of the money raised by Pena.” He said one of the firearms found on Trujillo during the traffic stop matches casings found after a drive by shooting outside State Sen. Linda Lopez’s home.

“Detectives learned through witness interviews related to the shooting investigation that Pena identified individuals to funnel contributions from an unknown source to his legislative campaign,” Gallegos said. “Detectives are working with other law enforcement agencies to determine whether the money for the campaign contributions was generated from narcotics trafficking, and whether campaign laws were violated.”