Man facing federal gun charges in ‘straw purchase’ case

McALLEN — A Hidalgo man faces federal charges for his alleged role in a firearm straw purchase, according to court records.

Edward Eli Lopez faces one count of aiding and abetting and one count of making false statements with regard to firearm records in connection with the purchase of at least two assault rifles last October, according to the criminal complaint.

Federal agents began looking into Lopez after a federal firearm licensee reported what they believed was a straw purchase from a man, identified as “suspect 1” in the complaint, who purchased two assault rifles the day before.

The complaint states that on Oct. 25, 2017, a licensee in Hidalgo County notified the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of denying the suspect’s AR-type rifle purchase.

“The (licensee) believed that suspect 1 was conducting a ‘straw purchase’ and was not the actual purchaser of the firearm,” the complaint further states.

According to the complaint, ATF agents conducted an inquiry on suspect 1 and realized the individual had purchased two DPMS, model A-15, 5.56 caliber (AR-type) rifles the previous day from a local licensee.

ATF agents interviewed suspect 1, who admitted to them that he purchased the rifles for another person, later identified as Lopez.

“Suspect 1 stated that Lopez transported suspect 1 to the (licensee) to purchase the firearms and instructed suspect 1 what firearms to purchase,” the complaint states. “After the purchase, Lopez took custody of the firearms and gave suspect 1 approximately $200.”

Suspect 1 also admitted to making false statements during the firearms purchase, records show.

During Lopez’s interview with federal agents, he admitted to instructing suspect 1 to buy the rifles for him.

“Lopez stated that he did not want to purchase the firearms himself because he did not want to get in trouble for ‘straw purchasing’ the firearms,” the complaint states. “Lopez stated that he asked suspect 1 to purchase the AR-type firearms in exchange for money and subsequently instructed, transported and paid suspect 1 to purchase AR-type firearms, thereby aiding and abetting suspect 1 in ‘straw purchasing’ firearms.”

Lopez is also about a month away from a formal arraignment on a separate state misdemeanor charge related to a drug arrest last year, court records show.

On Monday, the 22-year-old man stood before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker for a detention hearing.

During the hearing, the court decided to deny Lopez bond. He remains in custody pending his trial proceedings, court records show.