News and Press Releases

Last Two Defendants Sentenced in Firearms Case 

Dec. 9, 2011

LAREDO, Texas – Jose Luis Castro, 39 of Austin, Texas, and Raul Martinez, 34 of Laredo, Texas, have been sentenced today to federal prison for participating in a scheme to recruit straw-purchasers to buy firearms, particularly Colt “El Grito” .38 caliber super pistols, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. 

U.S. District Judge George P. Kazen sentenced Castro and Martinez to 48 and 42 months, respectively. Each will also serve a three-year-term of supervised release following completion of their prison term and were ordered to complete 120 hours of community service.

Castro chose firearms that he wanted to purchase without listing himself as the purchaser. Castro and Martinez then recruited persons to provide their personal information and to fill out and sign Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Form 4473s – the official firearms transaction record for intrastate, over-the-counter firearm transactions. Many transactions took place at the house of Martinez. The straw-purchasers included Laredo residents Adrian Bustos, 26, Mario Magana, 25, Homero Garcia III, 25, Manuel Rangel, 40, Hector Lozano III, 25, and Jose Angel Monsivais, 38. By signing the ATF Form 4473, these straw purchasers certified they were the actual buyer of the firearms when in fact they knew they were not. These six have all pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to prison.

Abel R. Arambula, a former federally licensed firearms dealer who was doing business as Abel’s Specialty Guns in San Ygnacio, Texas, failed to keep proper records of these sales. He listed the name of the straw purchaser, rather than the real purchaser, of these firearms. For his role in the scheme, he received a sentence of 16 months.

This scheme involved approximately 38 firearms purchased through Abel’s Specialty Guns located in San Ygnacio, Texas. The signature firearm of the scheme was the Colt “El Grito” .38 caliber super pistol, a pistol which has gold engravings and is nickel-plated and commemorates Mexico’s independence from Spain on Sept. 16, 1810. It is believed several of these firearms were headed to Mexico and one was actually recovered there.

Castro and Martinez have been on bond where they were permitted to remain and voluntarily surrender to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The charges and the convictions of these two defendants and the others are the result of an investigation conducted by ATF special agents who obtained the firearm transaction records and interviewed the alleged buyers who later admitted their roles as straw purchasers which ultimately lead to the charges in this case. 

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth Rabe and Jose Homero Ramirez.

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