McALLEN — A Texas Chicano Brotherhood gang member received a 100-month prison sentence for being in possession of a rifle, court records show.
Earlier this month U.S. Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced Ismael “Smiley” Tovar-Zavala to more than eight years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm, specifically a Cold War era rifle.
The 38-year-old Edinburg man’s sentence is related to his arrest more than two years ago on April 21, 2016, when Hidalgo County sheriff’s deputies pulled him over for a traffic violation, and after a search of his vehicle, found a rifle, court records show.
Deputies, who seized his vehicle after he failed to provide a driver’s license and registration, performed an inventory of the contents of his vehicle where they discovered a Yugoslavian model rifle.
During an interview with authorities, Tovar-Zavala claimed ownership of the rifle, stating he used it for “protection,” court records show.
Based on what he admitted to federal agents, the government charged Tovar-Zavala in connection with two counts of importing/manufacturing of firearms, the complaint states.
Tovar-Zavala was convicted in state district court seven years earlier in connection with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute cocaine, court records show.
Tovar-Zavala, a seven-time convicted felon, has a criminal history dating back more than 20 years, and has been arrested in connection with evading arrest, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, burglary of a habitation, assault that causes bodily injury, possession of marijuana, manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance, and theft of property to name a few.
Tovar-Zavala, a Texas Chicano Brotherhood gang member, was also arrested Aug. 1, 2014 during a raid in McAllen.
He was among five people, including three fellow Texas Chicano Brotherhood gang members, who were arrested by San Juan police with the help of McAllen police and the U.S. Marshals Service.
In August of last year, Tovar-Zavala agreed to plead guilty to one count of the indictment; in exchange, the government agreed to drop count two of the indictment, court records show.
As part of the plea agreement, Tovar-Zavala will be obligated to forfeit all firearms, weapons and ammunition seized in connection with the case, including the Yugoslavia Model 59/66, 7.62-by-39 mm caliber rifle, and approximately 12 rounds of ammunition, the record shows.
The man will also be placed on supervised release for three years upon completion of his more than eight-year prison term, court records show.