Significant Sentence Handed Down For Firearms Trafficking
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Angel Aquino-Pineda, 27, of McAllen, has been ordered to serve more than eight years in the Bureau of Prisons for his role in trafficking AK-47 variant rifles to Mexico, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Aquino-Pineda pleaded guilty before Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head on March 26, 2014.
In handing down the 100-month sentence, Judge Head observed that the firearms in Aquino-Pineda’s possession were “were weapons of war.” The court further expressed relief that the assault rifles were intercepted, as there was simply no way to know how many lives they would have taken.
In 2013, the Kingsville Specialized Crimes and Narcotics Task Force conducted a traffic stop on a truck driven by Aquino-Pineda in Kingsville and located 35 AK-47 variant rifles and $26,000 concealed in a false compartment. Seven of the rifles had obliterated serial numbers. Aquino-Pineda admitted his role was to transport the firearms from Houston to McAllen. The firearms would then be transported to Mexico.
Six Houston residents have also pleaded guilty for their roles in a conspiracy to traffic the firearms. Javier Resendez, 29, entered a guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice Ellington. Abel Lopez, 34, Arturo Garcia, 30, Roberto Santana Mears, 22, Mary Bel Deanda, 39, and Martha Gonzales, 41, previously pleaded guilty at varying times before U.S. Magistrate Judges Ellington and Jason Libby. They all await sentencing.
Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) traced the firearms to Houston purchasers Deanda, Gonzales and Mears, who admitted they were “straw purchasers” for Resendez. Resendez indicated Garcia recruited him to purchase firearms for Lopez and that the firearms would be taken to Mexico. Resendez then recruited Deanda and Gonzales to “straw purchase” the firearms on his behalf. Mears admitted he was also a “straw purchaser” for Lopez.
ATF investigated with the assistance of the Kingsville Specialized Crimes and Narcotics Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hugo R. Martinez and Jeffrey D. Preston are prosecuting the case.