San Juan felon to spend 46 months in prison for federal firearms violation

McALLEN — The private purchase of firearms will cost a San Juan man more than three years in federal prison, according to court records of the case.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Cristian Josue Garza of San Juan to 46 months during a sentencing hearing Tuesday morning for violating federal firearms laws, records show.

Garza, who has been in federal custody since Oct. 20, 2018, when he was arrested in connection with the case, was previously convicted on felony state charges. This made it illegal for him to be in possession of any firearm.

In late October 2018, Homeland Security Investigations agents who were conducting “enforcement operations” in McAllen witnessed Garza and an unidentified person carrying boxes of what was later determined to be firearms to a white sports utility vehicle, where the boxes were placed.

Later that day, the 24-year-old man, who was driving the aforementioned SUV, was pulled over by a deputy of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office for a traffic violation.

A firearm, a Colt model pistol, was found within the SUV after Garza gave the deputy permission to search the vehicle, the complaint stated.

“ Garza was interviewed and made post Miranda statements admitting that the firearms belonged to him and that he had purchased the firearms in a private sale right before he was encountered by law enforcement,” the record stated. “Additionally, Garza admitted that he knew (he) was a multiple-time convicted felon that could not legally purchase firearms.”

According to county records, Garza has a lengthy criminal history going back more than six years, with arrests for possession of a controlled substance, burglary of a building, burglary of a vehicle, forgery, evading arrest and driving while intoxicated.

In January 2016, Garza was convicted on three state charges: burglary of a vehicle, theft of a firearm and evading arrest, records show.

Garza pleaded guilty to the firearm charge in December; in exchange, government prosecutors agreed to decrease Garza’s offense by two levels at the time of his sentencing.

In addition to the 46-month prison sentence, the San Juan native will be required to be on supervised release for three years upon completion of the prison term, court notes show.