Laredo Man Convicted in Federal Court
|Nov. 15, 2011|
LAREDO, Texas – Jesus Eloy Garcia, 37, of Laredo, Texas, has been convicted by a federal jury verdict after a two-day trial of being a prior convicted felon unlawfully in possession of a firearm and ammunition, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The verdict was announced just a couple hours ago in Senior U.S. District Judge George P. Kazen’s court after less than an hour of deliberation.
During the trial, the jury heard testimony from several eyewitnesses who identified Garcia as being in possession of a firearm on two separate occasions, Jan. 26 and April 4, 2011, as well as four rounds of .357 caliber ammunition on April 4. Testimony showed that Garcia also has a prior felony conviction from 2005 of being a prior convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
On Jan. 26, 2011, Laredo Police Department (LPD) officers stopped the driver of a Chrysler 300 for bearing unreadable registration. The officer immediately recognized the driver from previous encounters to be Garcia. Deciding to detain Garcia on suspicion of an unrelated offense, the officer asked Garcia for consent to search the vehicle. During the search of the vehicle, the officer’s attention was drawn to a partially open electrical panel on the passenger’s side door. The panel appeared to have been tampered with after manufacture and a Bursa Model Thunder .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol was found in the hollow space beneath the electrical panel. Garcia claimed he bought the car two to three days prior from a local auto seller in Laredo, Texas, but the auto dealer produced the contract contradicting Garcia’s account of the time he purchased the car. Testimony at trial indicated that the pistol had no signs of collected dust or long-term storage in the compartment in which it was discovered.
In relation to the April 4, 2011, incident, an LPD officer testified that he encountered Garcia, asleep, in the driver’s seat of a black sedan with its hazard lights flashing, the engine running with the transmission in drive and with his foot on the brake. Entering the vehicle from the passenger’s side, the officer put the transmission in park, turned off the vehicle. When he returned to the driver’s side and opened the door, Garcia was startled and awoke. When asked for his driver’s license, Garcia began to empty his pockets and place the contents on the vehicle trunk. Among the items was a Visine bottle with brown liquid inside suspected to be heroin. Suspecting him of possession of controlled substance, the officer began to pat him down and discovered a stainless steel Sturm Ruger Model SP101 .357 magnum caliber revolver loaded with four rounds of .357 PMC brand ammunition.
Special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) testified that the firearms and ammunition were manufactured outside the State of Texas and thus affected commerce.
Garcia is expected to be sentenced in January 2012, at which time he will face up to 10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000. Garcia has been in custody since his arrest on April 4, 2011.
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 ATF in conjunction with the Laredo Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth Rabe and Roberto Ramirez prosecuted the case.