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.
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