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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Ex-mayor of N.M. border town pleads guilty to gun running

    Ex-mayor of N.M. border town pleads guilty to gun running

    By Ashley Meeks
    Jul 13, 2011 7:59pm EDT

    LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (Reuters) - The ousted mayor of a tiny New Mexico border town has pleaded guilty for his role in a conspiracy to run guns to warring Mexican drug cartels, authorities said on Wednesday.

    Eddie Espinoza, 51, the former mayor of Columbus, pleaded guilty in federal court in Las Cruces on Tuesday to one count of conspiracy, three counts of making false statements in the acquisition of firearms and three counts of smuggling firearms from the United States.

    He remains in federal custody awaiting sentencing. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison for each of the smuggling counts, five years for conspiracy and five years for each false statement charge.

    Espinoza was arrested in March along with former Columbus police chief Angelo Vega, village trustee Blas Gutierrez and 10 others charged in an 84-count gun-running indictment.

    It alleged that the defendants used their positions to facilitate and safeguard the trafficking of around 200 guns, including assault rifles, to Mexico, where almost 40,000 people have been killed in drug cartel-related mayhem since late 2006.

    Federal prosecutors agreed to seal both Espinoza's plea agreement and any future plea deals of his co-defendants, who are due to go on trial in the fall. Espinoza's lawyer, Howard Anderson, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

    The former mayor, who also faces possible prosecution in Mexico's northern Chihuahua state on gun-running charges, did not resign until two months after his arrest and insisted he be paid his $700 monthly salary for April and May.

    The gun-running scandal brought fresh notoriety to Columbus, best known for a raid by famed bandit turned revolutionary Francisco "Pancho" Villa in 1916 that left 18 Americans dead and the isolated frontier town a smoldering ruin.

    Last week, the cash-strapped community dissolved its police force as it had no budget to pay for it. Policing has since been taken over by the Luna County Sheriff's Department.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/ ... mesticNews
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  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    FOX covered this.

    Former New Mexico Town Mayor Pleads Guilty to Gun Smuggling

    Published July 13, 2011
    Associated Press

    The former mayor of the New Mexico border town of Columbus has pleaded guilty to federal gun smuggling charges.

    U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy announced Wednesday that 51-year-old Eddie Espinoza has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, three counts of making false statements in the acquisition of firearms, and three counts of smuggling firearms from the United States.

    Murphy says Espinoza entered the plea Tuesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge William P. Lynch in Las Cruces. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

    Espinoza, the town's police chief and a Columbus trustee were among 12 people arrested in March in a federal sting.

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/07/13/ma ... z1S2xbX3MO
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  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    U.S. Department of Justice
    United States Attorney
    Western District of Texas
    www.justice.gov/usao/txw
    For Immediate Release
    July 13, 2011

    Former Columbus, New Mexico Mayor Pleads Guilty in Federal Fireams Trafficking Case

    United States Attorney John E. Murphy announced that 51-year-old Eddie Espinoza, former mayor of Columbus, NM, pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with a firearms trafficking investigation.

    Appearing yesterday afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge William P. Lynch in Las Cruces, NM, Espinoza pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, three counts of making false statements in the acquisition of firearms and three counts of smuggling firearms from the United States.

    As a result of his guilty plea, Espinoza faces up to ten years in federal prison for each of the smuggling counts; up to five years in federal prison for the conspiracy charge as well as each of the false statement charges. Espinoza remains in federal custody. No sentencing date has been scheduled.

    The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with assistance from the Comandante Chihuahua State Police in Palomas, Mexico and the Secretariat of Public Security in Juarez, Mexico. The U.S. Marshal’s Service, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, New Mexico State Police, Las Cruces Police Department, El Paso Police Department as well as other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies also provided assistance during the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by District of New Mexico Assistant United States Attorneys Nathan Lichvarcik and Michael Nammar.

    http://www.atf.gov/press/releases/2011/ ... -case.html
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  4. #4
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    RELATED

    Mayor of NM town pleads guilty to gun smuggling

    http://www.alipac.us/ftopict-243741.html
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  5. #5
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    RELATED

    Two more admit guilt in Columbus gun trafficking case

    http://www.alipac.us/ftopict-243750.html
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