News and Press Releases

Three Men Sentenced for Roles in a Straw Purchasing Ring

March 19, 2012

McALLEN, Texas – Three men have been sentenced to varying terms of federal prison for their roles in lying on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) forms 4473, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Chief United States District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa handed down the sentences today for Rene Cantu Jr., 26, of Pharr, Texas; Abiel Hernandez, 26, a lawful permanent resident alien from Mexico; and Juan Manuel Bugarin, 31, also of Pharr. Hernandez and Bugarin received sentences of nine and six months, respectively, while Cantu will serve a term of 52 months. All will also have to serve a term of supervised release of three years following their release from prison.

The men all pleaded guilty Cantu Sept. 7, 2011, for making false statements and representations on the ATF form 4473 in the acquisition of a federal firearm’s licensee (FFL), an offense commonly referred to as a straw purchasing. 

Hernandez purchased four AK-47 type rifles at once, while Buragin purchased four AK-47 type rifles from the same FFL a few days later. Interviews were conducted with Hernandez and Buragin wherein they both admitted they had straw purchased firearms for Cantu in exchange for financial compensation. Further investigation revealed Cantu had purchased 32 firearms over a four-month period, all of which were straw purchased for another person.

Cantu was held responsible for a total of 40 firearm straw purchases and for recruiting Hernandez and Buragin to make such purchases. The court also noted that two of the firearms Cantu had purchased were recovered in Mexico, one at the location of a shootout where grenades and a grenade launcher were recovered and where eight drug cartel members and one member of the Mexican Marines were killed.

Hernandez and Buragin have been on bond pending sentencing and have been ordered to surrender within the next two months to begin their sentence. Cantu, though initially released on pretrial release, was later taken into custody for violating the terms of that release where he will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of prison facility to be determined in the near future.

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

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