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Aug. 9, 2012

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Last of 12 Sentenced in Straw Purchasing and Export Ring

McALLEN, Texas – With the sentencing of five people today, 12 people have been now been convicted and sentenced for their respective roles in making false statements on Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) forms 4473 in the acquisition of firearms from federal firearms licensees (FFL) and exporting those firearms to Mexico, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Marco Antonio Gonzalez Jr., 24, of McAllen, Texas; Jorge Alberto Cruz-Lopez Jr., 20, a United States citizen living in Reynosa, Mexico; Ruben Barraza, 18, of Pharr, Texas; Jeremy Dick, 23, of San Benito, Texas; and Fabian Lopez, 22, of Edinburg, Texas, were all sentenced today. All previously pleaded guilty to the charges.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Gonzalez, Cruz-Lopez, Barraza, Dick and Lopez to serve 60, 46, 37, 46 and 24 months months respectively. The prison terms will each be followed by a three-year-term of supervised release.

Previously sentenced after also pleading guilty were Waldo Sanchez, 21, of Edinburg; and sisters Rosa Garcia, 32, and Rosario Garcia, 29, both of Pharr, Texas, as well as Rolando Cavazos, 34, of Donna, Texas; Susanna Trevino, 28, of Weslaco, Texas; Etzael Flores, 19, of Alamo, Texas; and Ashley Phillips, 18, also of Pharr. Rosa Garcia, Sanchez and Cavazos were all sentenced to 60 months in federal prison, while Rosario Garcia, Trevino, Flores and Phillips were sentenced to respective terms of 46, 37, 30 and 21 months imprisonment. All those sentences were also ordered to be followed by a three-year-term of supervised release.

According to the record of the case, ATF agents received information that the defendants had been purchasing large numbers of firearms highly desired by the Mexican Cartels. Follow up investigation led to the arrest of the 12 defendants and as a result, agents learned that Gonzalez recruited Cavazos to purchase firearms. Cavazos, who was on probation at the time and could not purchase firearms himself, then recruited Sanchez and Rosa Garcia to purchase firearms. Sanchez and Garcia then recruited the remaining co-defendants. Agents were able to identify approximately 122 firearms purchased by the defendants. 

The investigation was conducted by ATF and Homeland Security Investigations. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patricia A. Rigney.