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Feds Sentence Texas Man For ‘Straw Buyer’ Guns Found In Mexico Crime Scenes

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An AR-15 rifle and AK-47 rifle were found at a crime scene in Saltillo, Mexico. Venegas had pleaded guilty to falsely claiming that the guns he was buying were for him. Guns are often purchased in the U.S. by "straw buyers" and later smuggled to Mexico. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

An AR-15 rifle and AK-47 rifle were found at a crime scene in Saltillo, Mexico. Venegas had pleaded guilty to falsely claiming that the guns he was buying were for him. Guns are often purchased in the U.S. by “straw buyers” and later smuggled to Mexico. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

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LAREDO, Texas (CBS/AP) — A South Texas man has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for buying guns in Laredo intended for use in Mexico.

A federal judge Monday sentenced 37-year-old Silverio Venegas  of Rio Bravo to three concurrent terms in prison for buying the three weapons in Laredo in late 2011.

One, an AR-15 pistol, was found shortly after it was bought at the sight of a shootout between gunmen and Mexican soldiers in Nuevo Laredo. One soldier and four gunmen were killed.

An AR-15 rifle and AK-47 rifle were found at a crime scene in Saltillo, Mexico. Venegas had pleaded guilty to falsely claiming that the guns he was buying were for him. Guns are often purchased in the U.S. by “straw buyers” and later smuggled to Mexico.

A straw purchase, also called a nominee purchase, is any purchase where an agent agrees to acquire a good or service for someone who is unable or unwilling to purchase the good or service himself. Straw purchases are legal except in cases where the ultimate receiver of goods or services uses those goods or services in the commission of a crime with the prior knowledge of the straw purchaser.

The United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ran a series of “gunwalking” sting operations  between 2006 and 2011. These operations were done under the umbrella of Project Gunrunner, a project intended to stem the flow of firearms into Mexico by interdicting straw purchasers and gun traffickers within the United States.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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