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03-26-2011, 10:32 #1
HSI Arrests Mayor, PD Chief & Councilman
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations office in New Mexico and Texas, Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S.attorney's Las Cruces office were all part of the investigation.
Ten people in southwestern New Mexico, including the village's mayor, police chief and a village trustee of Columbus were arrested Thursday on federal charges of smuggling approximately 200 weapons into Mexico.
One of the suspects, 24-year-old Ignacio Villalobos, is still at large. A Mexican national, 25-year-old Manuel Ortega was also apprehended.
According to court documents filed in District Court Thursday, Columbus Mayor Eddie Espinoza, Police Chief Angelo Vega and Trustee Blas Gutierrez are among those accused of buying weapons, ammunition and body armor to be smuggled into Mexico.
Among the weapons purchased were AK-47-type and 9 mm weapons. The indictment says the weapons were purchased between January 2010 and March of this year.
The U.S. Department of Justice says 10 of the 11 suspects were arrested by federal, state and local authorities Thursday morning.
The owner of the gun shop where the majority of the weapons were purchased, Ian Garland, was also charged. The indictment says the suspects claimed they were buying the firearms for themselves, when in fact they were purchasing for someone else.
Twelve guns that were purchased by the suspects were found in Mexico.
In October 2010 the men started feeling the heat.
While federal agents were in Columbus, Mayor Espinoza used his car to try to block them; he then called Chief Vega to question the agents as to why they were in town.
On February 12th, authorities stopped Councilor Gutierrez and seized 10 AK-47 type pistols.
Two days later, in an undercover operation, federal agents raided the El Paso the apartment the men were using to store the weapons and took 20 guns.
The indictment says when the men discovered the guns were missing from the apartment; they just assumed one of their delivery men took them to Mexico.
In a bold move, Chief Vega called agents about the councilor being pulled over and asked for the guns back.
Mayor Espinoza faces seven charges, including three counts of firearms smuggling. Chief Vega is only charged with conspiracy. Trustee Gutierrez faces 37 counts in all.
Ignacio Villalobos, Ian Garland, Alberto Rivera, Miguel Carrillo, Ricardo Gutierrez, Manuel Ortega, and Vicente Carreon all face smuggling charges.
Gutierrez's wife, Eva Lucie Gutierrez, faces two counts of conspiracy for accompanying her husband to purchase guns, according to the indictment.
Last edited by SIU; 03-26-2011 at 10:34. Reason: Ttile should read ATF, HSI amd DEAIn every facet of American life the current movement is towards a complete lack of accountability for self and personal responsibility for actions or lack thereof, with a growing sentiment towards a sense of entitlement of everything and earning nothing. - SIU