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Sept. 10, 2012

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Detention Center Employees Convicted on Federal Firearms Charges

LAREDO, Texas – Seven Laredo residents have pleaded guilty to making false statements in connection with firearms purchases from local gun stores, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Melvin King Jr., special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Six of those convicted today worked at the Rio Grande Detention Center, operated by GEO Corrections, in Rio Bravo, Texas.

According to testimony presented at today’s hearing, Angel Chavez, 23, Abel Robles, 23, Hugo Enrique De La Rosa, 23, Ramiro Adolfo Rodriguez III, 26, Hugo Ubaldo Castillo Jr., 23, and Leticia Adriana Zamora, 24, were co-workers at the Rio Grande Detention Center when they bought the firearms. Benito Aguirre Jr., 24, was a personal friend of one of the defendants.

Just a short time ago, U.S. Magistrate Judge Guillermo R. Garcia accepted their guilty pleas after each admitted making a false statement on ATF Form 4473, which requires each buyer of a firearm to certify, among other things, that they are the actual buyer of the firearm as well as identifying their true address. De La Rosa admitted, however, that he gave a false residence address when he bought an AK-47.

The other defendants told Judge Garcia they lied on the forms when they certified they were the actual buyers of the firearms, mostly AK-47 and AR-15 type rifles, when in fact they were being paid to buy the firearm for someone else. The group acquired a total of 16 firearms between April 14, 2011, and Sept. 29, 2011, from several local gun shops. Some of the firearms were ordered over the Internet from out of state gun dealers and shipped to a local federally licensed gun dealer for the legal transfer.

Each faces up to five years in prison as well as a $250,000 fine at sentencing, which will be set a later date. They have been permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.

The investigation, which began in the fall of 2011, was conducted by the ATF with the cooperation of GEO Corrections. Assistant United States Attorney Homero Ramirez is prosecuting the case.