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Jan. 9, 2012

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Guilty Plea on Eve of Jury Selection for Zuniga-Hernandez

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Jose Luis Zuniga-Hernandez, 43, of Control, Tamaulipas, Mexico, has been convicted of being an alien found within the United States after deportation and of being an alien in possession of a firearm, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Zuniga-Hernandez pleaded guilty in federal court this afternoon, admitting he had entered the United States illegally after he had been previously deported from the United States on Aug. 8, 1997. Prior to his deportation, Zuniga had been convicted of possession with intent to distribute marijuana on Feb. 14, 1990. Zuniga also admitted that at the time of his arrest he was in possession of a customized gold, diamond and ruby encrusted Colt 38 Super handgun.

Zuniga-Hernandez has been in jail since his arrest on Oct. 26, 2011, where he will remain pending his sentencing hearing, which United States District Court Judge Andrew S. Hanen has set for April 16, 2012. At that time, he faces up to 20 years in prison for being found in the United States after deportation conviction in addition to a 10-year-term for being an alien in possession of a firearm. Each of these two convictions also carries a maximum fine of $250,000.

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Angel Castro.