Five Plead Guilty To Federal Firearms Charges
LAREDO, Texas – Five people have entered guilty pleas for making false statements in connection with firearms purchases from local gun stores, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.
According to testimony presented at today’s hearing, Gloria Esther Almanza, 39, Calixto Javier Cardenas, 23, Carlos Picazio, 30, and Alejandro Rivera-Ruiz, 48, all residents of Laredo, each purchased semi-automatic assault rifles for other persons who would smuggle them into Mexico. They all pleaded guilty to making false statements on Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Forms 4473, commonly known as straw purchasing. Mexican national Oswaldo Rafael Borrego-Ramos, aka “Baldo,” 31, of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, admitted recruiting the defendants directly or through others. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements in acquiring firearms.
The indictment alleges that the conspiracy spanned a little over one year, beginning in October 2010. Over the course of 15 months the defendants acquired at least 23 pistols and semi-automatic assault rifles. The federal investigation involved historical purchases made by these defendants and others from various stores in Laredo.
U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia-Marmolejo, who accepted the guilty pleas today, has set sentencing for June 5, 2013, at which time they face a maximum prison sentence of five years and a possible $250,000 fine. Borrego-Ramos and Rivera-Ruiz are presently serving federal prison sentences of 78 months and 52 months, respectively, for smuggling ammunition and firearm magazines into Mexico. They and Picazio will remain in federal custody pending sentencing in this case, while Almanza and Cardenas were permitted to remain on bond.
Picazio was also named in another indictment along with Robert Jacaman Sr. and Veronica Jacaman in an ammunition smuggling charge involving 9,500 rounds. Picazio is innocent of that charge until proven guilty as are the Jacamans.
The investigation was conducted by the ATF with the cooperation of United States Border Patrol and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Homero Ramirez is prosecuting the case.