DOJ Seal Department of Justice  
United States Attorney John M. Bales
Eastern District of Texas


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2, 2010            PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER             CELL: (409) 553-9881 DIRECT: (409) 981-7902



            BEAUMONT, Texas - A 21-year-old Port Arthur, Texas man has been sentenced to federal prison as a result of Operation Time Machine in the Eastern District of Texas announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

            Jorge Varela pleaded guilty on Feb. 10, 2010 to being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm and was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison on May 28, 2010, by U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone.

            According to information presented in court, on Nov. 2, 2009, Varela was stopped for a traffic violation in Port Arthur and found to be in possession of a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun.  Varela was taken into custody on a Jefferson County deadly conduct warrant that had been issued following a Jefferson County Grand Jury's indictment of Varela for deadly conduct in connection with a drive-by shooting that occurred in Port Arthur on Sep. 12, 2009.  Varela has not been convicted in this case and is considered innocent until proven guilty.

            Varela was indicted by a federal grand jury on Dec. 2, 2009, and charged with being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm.  He has remained in federal custody since Dec. 12, 2009 when he was arraigned and detained without bond for the charge.  Varela still faces the deadly conduct charges, which are pending in the Jefferson County Criminal District Court.  Because Varela has been convicted in federal court, he is no longer eligible to receive probation from a Jefferson County jury.

            This case is an excellent example of Operation Time Machine's partnership approach.  The dual prosecution of this defendant in state and federal courts allows for the maximum penalty and ensures violent offenders are off the streets.  Operation Time Machine, a Project Safe Neighborhoods program, is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence, deterring illegal possession of guns, ammunition and body armor, and improving the safety of residents in Port Arthur, Texas. Participants in the initiative include community members and organizations as well as federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

            This case was investigated by the ATF, Port Arthur Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Ross.


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