News and Press Releases

Leader of Straw Purchasing Cell Gets 10 Years in Federal Prison

July 26, 2012

MCALLEN, Texas – The leader of a straw purchasing cell and another defendant have just been handed significant sentences for their respective roles in the recruiting of others to make false statements on Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) forms 4473 in the acquisition of firearms from federal firearms licensees (FFL), United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Felix Torre, 26, of Pharr, Texas, and Izaha Saenz, 24, of San Juan, Texas, each pleaded guilty to one count of straw purchasing. Torres was also convicted of being a felon in possession of firearms.

Today, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced Torres to 60 months imprisonment for presiding over straw purchasers who bought more than 134 firearms. He also received a concurrent 120-month-term for the felon in possession of firearms convuiction. Saenz was sentenced to 60 months of imprisonment, the maximum by statute. They were also ordered to serve three-year-terms of supervised release.

Also convicted and sentenced in this case were Noe Torres, 20, of Pharr, and Ilma Garcia, 23, of Edinburg, Texas, who received respective sentences of 60 and 33 months in prison. Torres, and Garcia also pleaded guilty to one count of straw purchasing as did Barbara Garfias, 25, of Pharr, who is awaiting sentencing. Nayely Ruby Herrera, 21, of Houston, was found guilty by a jury in this case in June of this year and is also pending sentencing.

ATF agents discovered several individuals had been purchasing large quantities of highly trafficked firearms and subsequently learned that Torres was the head of a large straw purchasing cell and recruited the aforementioned persons and others. Torres also recruited Saenz to assist in handling Garcia in her straw purchases. In the course of conducting the straw purchases, Torres would provide United States currency to the straw purchasers, direct which gun store to go to and which firearms to buy. Once the purchase was made, the purchasers would return the firearms to Torres either directly or through an intermediary and the straw purchasers would then be paid for their services.

In arriving at its sentence today, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez court noted it was restricted to 120 months by statute. Additionally, the court ordered his federal sentence run consecutive to the seven-year-term of imprisonment he is currently serving for unrelated violations of state law.

Torres has been on detained without bond since the time of his arrest due to his criminal history and recent state conviction for felony assault. Saenz has also been detained without bond since the time of his arrest.

The investigation was conducted by ATF. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Steven Schammel.




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