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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANGELA DODGE

Dec. 12, 2011

PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER
(713) 567-9388

Laredoan Pleads Guilty to Firearm Charge

LAREDO, Texas – Gerardo Banda Jr., 24, of Laredo, Texas, has pleaded guilty to being a prior convicted felon unlawfully in possession of a firearm, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.   

According to court records, Laredo Police Department officers obtained warrants to arrest Banda on May 9, 2011, just hours after another man reported to police that he had been kidnapped from his home at gunpoint by Banda and forced to drive his vehicle while Banda sat in the back seat, threatening to shoot him with two loaded pistols pointed at him. The victim ran out of the vehicle when Banda was on his cell phone bragging that he had kidnapped him. Banda pursued the victim on foot, firing at least 11 shots, but missed. Numerous empty pistol shells and two fired pistol slugs were later recovered and Banda’s abandoned SUV was found later in the day in the vicinity of Mines Road and Fletcha Lane, several miles from the shooting.

Investigators and officers with the Laredo Police Department staked out Banda’s home late the same afternoon after obtaining state arrest warrants. The defendant arrived driving a relative’s car. As police walked towards him, Banda ran from the car carrying a woman’s purse, which he soon dropped. After he was apprehended, police discovered two pistols in the purse, which were identified as the same pistols used in the kidnapping a few hours earlier.

A federal grand jury in Laredo indicted Banda on Nov. 8, 2011, and was arrested by federal agents days later. He remains in federal custody pending sentencing to be scheduled at a later date. At that time, he faces a maximum custodial sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a maximum three-year-term of supervised release.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a nationwide commitment to reduce gun and gang crime in America by networking existing local programs that target gun and gun crime and providing these programs with additional tools necessary to be successful. Since its inception in 2001, approximately $2 billion has been committed to this initiative. This funding is being used to hire new federal and state prosecutors, support investigators, provide training, distribute gun lock safety kits, deter juvenile gun crime and develop and promote community outreach efforts as well as to support other gun and gang violence reduction strategies.

The matter was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in conjunction with the Laredo Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Homero Ramirez prosecuted the case.