Minnesota’s judicial revolving door is nothing new

A 2003 murder case illustrates the ongoing problem with violent felons released early.

An April 1 press release from the U.S. Attorney caught my eye. It was no joke.

The U.S. Attorney’s office announced a federal weapons charge against a Minnesota man, with “prior felony convictions, including assault, weapons violations, and murder.”


In August 2003, Salvador Anthony Pacheco, then aged 22, murdered Minneapolis cabdriver Mohamed Ahmed Salah, for no apparent reason.

At the time (2003), the Associated Press (AP) reported,

A Dakota County man out of prison for less than two months has been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a Minneapolis cabdriver in early August.

Pacheco had three earlier felony convictions before the murder case.

His first felony conviction came in October 1997, then aged 19, for 2nd-degree assault, for an incident occurring when he was just 18. He was nominally sentenced to 3 years in prison.

Two firearms-related felony convictions followed in February 2000, for an incident that occurred in July 1999. Yet, Pacheco was back on the street in June 2003.

For the 2003 murder of the cabbie, Pacheco was convicted of 2nd-degree felony murder and sentenced to more than 27 years in prison.

It’s not clear when he was released from prison on the murder charge, but court records include a handwritten letter from Pacheco dated May 2016, and bearing an Illinois address.

The latest incident involving Pacheco dates from October 2022 and occurred in Crow Wing County.

A September 2023 complaint in the Crow Wing case gives Pacheco’s address as Minneapolis. In October 2022, a state trooper pulled over Pacheco’s rental car for speeding. The trooper reports a search of the car uncovered a cornucopia of drugs and drug-related items, the .45 in question, and three other guys.

A search of the state judicial database for the names of the three passengers in the vehicle reveals that two have past felony convictions, and the third is the subject of an active arrest warrant.

From the incident, Pacheco was charged with a state felon-in-possession felony. Pacheco was detained in October 2023 and returned to state prison. The Feds currently have him in custody on the Federal gun charge.

He has a hearing scheduled for May 1 on the state charge. A trial date for the Federal case has been set, preliminarily, for June 3 in Duluth.