New Mexico Fire Marshals assist Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in multistate arson investigation involving Swift Trucking

CONTACT: David Lienemann
DHSEM Public Information Officer
December 12, 2022

Suspect arrested in arson case involving 25 truck fires across eight states

SANTA FE – A suspect has been arrested by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) following a two-year string of semi-truck trailer arson cases, including nine in New Mexico. The New Mexico Fire Marshals Office played an integral role in the multistate investigation. ATF reached out to the Fire Marshals office in October 2020 to coordinate the investigation of any commercial motor vehicle fires along Interstate 40. On Oct. 24, 2020, the New Mexico State Police reached out to the Fire Marshals office to report a commercial motor vehicle fire involving a Swift tractor trailer in Tucumcari, New Mexico along Interstate 40. The rear of the semi-truck was on fire and the driver of the truck was asleep in the cab of the truck. The State Fire Marshals investigation determined the incident was a criminal act of arson and attempted murder.

Over the following two years, the New Mexico Fire Marshals office investigated five additional fires involving Swift tractor trailers in conjunction with ATF. Using search warrants for cell phone towers in Torrance, McKinley, Guadalupe and Quay County, the Fire Marshals located a GPS device installed in a commercial truck which was present at all fires. Through additional warrants and historical cellular data analysis, law enforcement was able to locate a phone owned by the same individual who owned the truck and GPS in the general area of 24 of the 25 Swift truck fires across eight states. Upon execution of a search warrant of the suspect’s vehicle and home, investigators discovered additional evidence of his alleged involvement in the series of arsons including logbooks, bills of landing, shipping receipts, and other records in digital and paper format. Many of the documents included location information such as pickup and delivery dates which coincided with the locations where the fires had occurred.

David Lienemann, Public Information Officer | David.Lienemann@DHSEM.NM.GOV | (505) 479-0144