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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Laredo Resident Get Max In Firearms Case

LAREDO, Texas – Elias Fidel Vega Jr., 22, of Laredo, has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for multiple firearms convictions, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Vega pleaded guilty Nov. 13, 2012.

Today, U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana handed Vega the statutory maximum sentence of 120 months on each of his three convictions - possession of firearms by a convicted felon, receipt or possession of unregistered firearms and illegal possession of a machine gun. Each sentence will run concurrent to each other for a total of 10 years in federal prison. Following completion of his prison term, Vega will also be required to serve three years of supervised release. Vega was also ordered to pay a $2,500 fine.

On April 14, 2012, the Laredo Police Department (LPD) received a report of a shooting on the 2600 block of Monterrey Ave. Upon arrival, officers learned about a possible drive-by shooting and found Elias F. Vega Sr. with a bullet wound to his back. Officers further noticed the property was equipped with video surveillance cameras and obtained a consent to search and permission to retrieve the recorded video discs. During the search, officers located large amounts of ammunition, an S&W .40 caliber pistol, an AK-47 assault rifle, $18,000 cash and other miscellaneous items. 

Video footage showed Vega Jr. arriving at the house agitated and then leaving with a handgun - later determined to be an S&W .40 caliber pistol. Minutes later, footage revealed a confrontation between Vega Jr. and two individuals at the Vega property. The two individuals left the property and fired into a parked vehicle. Vega fired a .223 Bushmaster, as a fully automatic machine gun, as they departed striking Vega Sr. in the process. 

LPD detectives interviewed Vega Jr. and others present during the confrontation prior to the shooting. Detectives inquired as to the whereabouts of the Bushmaster machine gun and Vega Jr. took them to the back area of the property and unearthed the Bushmaster from the backyard.

LPD detectives and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) determined Vega Jr. had been previously convicted in the 49th District Court in Webb County for evading arrest with a motor vehicle in 2010.

Further, LPD detectives and ATF agents did not find any registration records in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record to confirm registration of the Bushmaster .223 machine gun to Vega Jr.

ATF inspection and testing of the Bushmaster rifle and various parts revealed it had been altered and converted to fire as a fully automatic machine gun. During testing, the weapon automatically fired five rounds with a single function of the trigger.

The case was investigated by ATF and Laredo Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Raul Guerra.  

Updated April 30, 2015