McALLEN, Texas (CN) - Three men were sentenced to federal prison for being straw purchasers of a total of 40 guns, including one recovered from a drug cartel shootout in Mexico, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Rene Cantu Jr., 26, of Pharr, was sentenced to four years; Juan Manuel Bugarin, 31, of Pharr, was sentenced to six months; and Abiel Hernandez, 26, a legal permanent resident from Mexico, to nine months, prosecutors said.
All three pleaded guilty to making false statements on Bureau Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive forms to buy guns from a federally licensed gun dealer.
"Hernandez purchased four AK-47 type rifles at once, while Bugarin purchased four AK-47 type rifles from the same FFL a few days later," prosecutors said in a statement.
"Interviews were conducted with Hernandez and Bugarin wherein they both admitted they had straw purchased firearms for Cantu in exchange for financial compensation. Further investigation revealed Cantu had purchased 32 firearms over a four-month period, all of which were straw purchased for another person," prosecutors said.
"Cantu was held responsible for a total of 40 firearm straw purchases and for recruiting Hernandez and Bugarin to make such purchases.
"The court also noted that two of the firearms Cantu had purchased were recovered in Mexico, one at the location of a shootout where grenades and a grenade launcher were recovered and where eight drug cartel members and one member of the Mexican Marines were killed."
Hernandez and Bugarin are free on bond, and have been ordered to surrender within two months.
Cantu was out on pretrial release but was taken into custody for violating his release terms, prosecutors said.
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