Second defendant in straw purchase case pleads guilty

Docs: Defendants made several firearm purchases in Pharr, McAllen

The federal courthouse at Bentsen Tower, located on Bicentennial Boulevard in McAllen, is seen in this August 2018 file photo. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

McALLEN — The second of three defendants in a straw purchase case pleaded guilty Thursday, court records show.

During a re-arraignment hearing, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez accepted a guilty plea from Juan Angel Vazquez Jr., who was part of a group of men who were arrested and charged in connection with an alleged straw purchase scheme, court notes show.

Vazquez pleaded guilty Thursday morning to importing/manufacturing firearms for his role in an investigation into the purchase of firearms in Pharr and McAllen, specifically in September and October of 2018, according to court records.

The indictment stated that Vazquez “knowingly” made a false statement on Oct. 24, 2018, when he filled out a federal firearms form indicating that he was the intended owner of three firearms he was purchasing from a federally licensed dealer, specifically from an Academy Sports in McAllen.

The defendant signed the form saying he was the actual buyer of the firearms, when in fact, the government alleges the man was purchasing the weapons for another person, constituting an illegal straw purchase.

Two other defendants in the case, Jonathan Muñoz and Matthew Muñoz, were also charged in the indictment, which stated that on Sept. 15, 2018, they “knowingly made, aided and abetted the making of, a false statement and representation with respect to information required to be kept in the records of Academy Sports and Outdoors, in Pharr,” according to the court document.

Additionally, the indictment goes on to state that Jonathan and Matthew falsely represented the information on the form, and in fact they were not the actual buyers of a “Glock pistol,” the record shows.

In February, Jonathan, who is currently free on a $30,000 bond, pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and is preparing to go to trial beginning in early June, court notes show.

Vazquez also originally pleaded not guilty to the charge during a re-arraignment hearing Feb. 19, court records show.

Matthew Muñoz, who is also free on a $30,000 bond, pleaded guilty to the manufacturing charge in late March, and is expected to be sentenced on June 25.

For Vazquez, who is also free on a $35,000 bond, is expected back before the court July 30, where he is expected to be sentenced.