HOUSTON – A federal jury has convicted a 34-year-old illegal alien who resided in Houston on one count of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. The verdict was returned less than an hour ago against Ciro Gomez Cardenas, 34, of Guerrero, Mexico, following a two-day trial and approximately two hours of deliberation.
During trial, the jury heard the testimony of several law enforcement officers who stated they had met with Cardenas at his residence in Houston on March 2, 2015. At that time, he admitted to having a firearm, a 20-gauge Mossberg pistol grip shotgun. In addition to the gun, Cardenas also possessed 64 rounds of 20-gauge and 12-guage shotgun shells. Cardenas was in the country illegally and per federal law, not permitted to possess a firearm.
Agents conducted a search of the residence and discovered the weapon and ammunition, which were manufactured in Connecticut and Arkansas, respectfully, and had traveled in interstate commerce.
Cardenas argued that he was holding the shotgun for a friend who had been previously deported to Mexico approximately two years ago. He further attempted to convince the jury that because he did not purchase the gun, he could not be in possession of it.
The jury was not persuaded and ultimately found him guilty as charged.
U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison presided over the trial and has set sentencing for Nov. 17, 2015, at which time Cardenas faces a maximum of up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine. He will remain in custody pending that hearing.
The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Homeland Security Investigations. Authorities with Citizenship and Immigration Services also provided testimony at trial.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Bennett and Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Searle prosecuted the case.