Project Guardian Efforts Result in 14 Federal Grand Jury Indictments this Week in the Western District of Texas | USAO-WDTX

Over the last seven days, federal grand juries in the Western District of Texas returned indictments charging 15 individuals with various firearms-related offenses under Project Guardian, announced U.S. Attorney Gregg N. Sofer.

In San Antonio, the grand jury returned three Project Guardian indictments charging four defendants.  In the first indictment, 39-year-old George Martinez, Jr., of San Antonio, faces up to ten years in federal prison upon conviction for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.  His criminal history includes a 2007 conviction in Bexar County for Assault Causing Bodily Injury to a Family Member as well as a 2017 felony drug possession conviction.  In the second indictment, 71-year-old Juan Higinio Alvarado of San Antonio is alleged to have straw purchased multiple firearms and conspired with 66-year-old Juan Jose Nunez-Rubvalcaba, a citizen of Mexico, to smuggle those firearms into Mexico.  Both face up to ten years in federal prison upon conviction.  In the third indictment, 25-year old Jimi Ray Guzman is charged with one count of conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute, two counts of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, one count of possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime and two counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Upon conviction of all charges, Guzman faces between ten years and life in federal prison.

In Del Rio, the grand jury returned two indictments charging defendants with being illegal aliens in possession of a firearm.  One indictment alleges that Mario Monreal-DeLeon, a 49–year-old Mexican citizen, possessed five firearms and approximately 175 rounds of ammunition he stole and attempted to smuggle into Mexico near the Eagle Pass area on August 23, 2020.  The second indictment alleges that 33-year-old Israel Villa-Morguia, a Mexican citizen, possessed a .45 pistol and ammunition.  Border Patrol agents discovered Villa-Morguia hiding in brush near the Uvalde Checkpoint on September 20, 2020.  Both defendants face up to ten years in federal prison upon conviction.

In Waco, the federal grand jury returned indictments charging eight defendants with violations of unlawful possession of a firearm by a prohibited person who is either under indictment or a convicted felon. Two of the indictments relate to domestic violence offenses.  In the first indictment, 43-year-old Luis Emetrio Gonzalez, of Belton, TX, faces up to ten years in federal prison upon conviction for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.  Belton police officers responding to a family disturbance call on February 8, 2020, discovered Gonzalez in possession of an AR-15 rifle and a .380 caliber pistol.  The criminal history for Gonzalez reveals three prior felony convictions for drug possession and burglary of a building dating back to 2007.  In the second indictment, 37-year-old Robert Lewis Stephens, Jr., of Waco, faces up to ten years in federal prison upon conviction of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.  On May 9, 2020, Waco Police officers responding to a domestic-violence-with-a-gun call, found Stephens in possession a 9mm semi-automatic pistol.  The criminal history of Stephens reveals a 2009 conviction in McLennan County for Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon and two felony cocaine possession convictions in McLennan County—one in 2001 and one in 2009.

In Pecos, the federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment charging 48-year-old Bernabe Cota Arce, a citizen of Mexico, with being an illegal alien in possession of two 9mm semi-automatic pistols.  According to court records, Arce was attempting to smuggle the firearms into Mexico on September 5, 2020, through the Presidio Port of Entry.  Upon conviction, Arce faces up to ten years in federal prison.

These cases are among approximately 350 pending illegal possession of firearms cases in the Western District of Texas. 

“Firearms in the hands of dangerous felons, domestic abusers and others who are prohibited from possessing them present a real danger to the law abiding members of our communities.  If you are convicted of federal firearms offenses, you can expect to face serious prison time.  This Office remains committed to aggressively enforcing federal firearms laws and bringing to justice those who would illegally purchase, traffic, transfer, possess or use these weapons,” stated U.S. Attorney Sofer.

These cases are part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and, ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. Click here for more information about Project Guardian.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys William F. Calve, John Cannizzarro, John Cooper, Larry Fadler, Mark Frazier, Priscilla Garcia and Stephanie Smith-Burris are prosecuting these cases on behalf of the government.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

 

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