Man taken into custody after committing violent crimes in Colorado Springs

DENVER, Colo. —  Miguel Lerma Cruz, 37, also known as Danny Ortega, has been formally charged by grand jury indictment with drug distribution and firearm-related crimes following a violent carjacking and police chase, Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer and ATF Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Debora Livingston announced on Tuesday.

Cruz, who is in federal custody, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on October 26, 2017.  He appeared in U.S. District Court in Denver on November 2 and November 7. A U.S. Magistrate Judge on Tuesday ordered Cruz to be held without bond pending a resolution of his case.

According to court documents, on May 29, 2017, Colorado Springs police responded to a report of a disturbance at the El Ranchito Meat Market. The caller reported a man had threatened her and her husband inside the market. She was able to give authorities a description of the suspect’s vehicle, according to officials. When officers arrived at the scene, they saw the suspect vehicle, a Dodge pickup truck, in the parking lot. When authorities tried to contact the driver, later identified as Cruz, he rammed into a marked patrol car and drove past other police officers and patrol cars while trying to flee the scene.

Officials say a high speed pursuit ensued through Colorado Springs. Cruz, who refused to stop for authorities, drove through a red light and hit two cars, including one occupied by two elderly people, both of whom were injured and taken to the hospital, according to officials. At this time, the Dodge truck was inoperable due to damage from the crash. Cruz, armed with an assault-type rifle, exited the truck and approached a woman in an Acura sedan and ordered her at gunpoint to get out of the car. Cruz fled the scene in the Acura and officers pursued him but were unable to locate him.

According to investigators, Cruz had two vehicles in the parking lot of the El Ranchito Meat Market — a silver Saturn sedan and the Dodge pickup truck. Officers searched both vehicles, including the stolen Acura that was later located and tied to Cruz due to a palm print he left on the vehicle.

Officials say in the Dodge, they recovered a handgun stolen from a home in Brattleboro, Vermont in 2013, about 289 grams of heroin, about 662 grams of methamphetamine, and up to $30,000 in cash. Inside the Saturn, officials recovered a Ruger mini-14 rifle, ammunition for a AK-47, and ammunition for a 12-gauge shotgun. They also found shell casings in connection with a shooting the previous month.

Cruz was later seen driving a white Camaro in Colorado Springs, and officers began surveillance on him in the 6800 block of Corporate Drive, near E. Woodmen Road and Mark Dabling Boulevard off I-25. Cruz was taken into custody on June 1. Authorities recovered $4,000 in cash and a AK-47 rifle in the Camaro.

Officials say Cruz had prior convictions for Attempt to Distribute Heroin, Distribution of a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, and assault, as well as three cases currently pending in state court for firearm and assault charges. He also had been convicted of Trafficking a Controlled Substance in Clark County, Nevada.

Cruz faces two counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, one count of use, carry and possess a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, one count of use, carry, possess and brandish a firearm during a drug trafficking crime carjacking, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

If he is convicted of all counts, Cruz faces a mandatory minimum of 32 years in federal prison.

This case was investigated by the ATF and the Colorado Springs Police Department.

 

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