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Ronald Troy Bettencourt, 55, of Artesia, pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon in federal court in Las Cruces to violating the federal firearms and drug trafficking laws.

Bettencourt was arrested Sept. 1, 2015, on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition on Jan. 23, 2014; distributing methamphetamine on Jan. 23, 2014; and being a felon in possession of explosives on March 18, 2014.

At the time, Bettencourt was prohibited from possessing firearms, ammunition or explosives because he previously had been convicted of conspiracy to possess a controlled substance, embezzlement, and fraud.

During Thursday’s proceedings, Bettencourt pleaded guilty to the indictment without the benefit of a plea agreement. At sentencing, Bettencourt faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated the Las Cruces office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Y. Armijo is prosecuting the case.