McALLEN — A Mission couple received probation in connection with a federal straw purchase case, court records show.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa handed down sentences for Roberto Chavez, 24, and Kendra Abigail Muñoz, 21, in connection with a straw purchase of a firearm made last year, the complaint against the two stated.
Hinojosa sentenced Chavez and Muñoz to two months probation each, with four months of home confinement with electronic monitoring set for both defendants, court notes show.
Chavez and Muñoz pleaded guilty in February to one count of importing/manufacturing firearms; in exchange, government prosecutors agreed to dismiss the firearms charges.
Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives arrested the couple last September after agents received information that Chavez and Muñoz had attempted to purchase firearms at various local shops that were federally licensed firearm dealers.
On Sept. 26, 2018, ATF agents watched as the couple arrived in the same vehicle at a store in Edinburg that was federally licensed to sell firearms. Muñoz went inside the store while Chavez remained in the vehicle.
“ATF observed Muñoz exit the (store) with a firearm box that agents later learned contained a Century Arms, model WASR-10, 7.62.x 39mm caliber rifle,” the complaint stated.
Muñoz then walked back to the vehicle and placed the rifle in the trunk. The pair then left the area.
“ATF maintained mobile surveillance on the vehicle and observed it drive to a residence in Mission, TX,” records show. “At the residence in Mission, TX, agents observed Muñoz and Chavez meet with a third individual and observed what appeared to be a firearms transfer between Muñoz and Chavez and third individual.”
After the alleged transfer, ATF agents approached the boyfriend and girlfriend, and were subsequently granted permission to search their residence.
Upon a search of the aforementioned residence, ATF agents discovered the Century Arms rifle, the record shows.
“Chavez and Muñoz were transported back to the ATF office where they were read their Miranda rights. Both Chavez and Muñoz stated that they understood their Miranda rights and were willing to answer questions without an attorney present,” court documents stated.
Muñoz told agents that she had been recruited by her boyfriend, Chavez, to buy the firearms on the behalf of another individual. She added that Chavez had picked her up from her work and they drove to the licensed gun dealer in Edinburg where he gave her $1,000 to buy the rifle.
“Muñoz admitted she provided false information on the ATF Form 4473,” records show. “When she filled the ATF Form 4473 at the FFL she indicated on the (form) that she was the actual purchaser of the firearm in violation of 18 USC 924.”
She said that after the purchase, they drove the rifle to the person whom had given Chavez money for her to buy the rifle.
“Muñoz stated that she kept the change from the purchase of the rifle as payment for buying the rifle,” the court document shows.
During his interview with ATF agents, Chavez corroborated Muñoz’s account of the straw-purchase. He admitted to recruiting his girlfriend to make the straw purchase in exchange for money, “thereby aiding and abetting Muñoz,” the record shows.
As part of the plea agreement the pair agreed to, the government seized seven firearms, all variants of the aforementioned rifle purchased in Edinburg, the record shows.
Both of the defendants will be required to be on home confinement for four months, the record shows.