Local men sentenced in straw gun purchase case

McALLEN — Two men who allegedly plotted to make straw firearm purchases were sentenced earlier this week, records show.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Julio Cesar Escamilla and Hector Abel Guerra to 57 months and 18 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in making false statements about weapons they purchased at federally licensed firearms stores locally.

According to the indictment against the two, Guerra and Escamilla worked together on four different instances to purchase firearms under Guerra’s name, only to transfer the weapon to the intended owner contrary to what they attested to in the federal firearms’ forms they signed.

In one instance, on Nov. 16, 2017, Guerra and Escamilla knowingly made, aided and abetted the making of a false and fictitious written statement to “Deez Guns,” a federally licensed firearms dealer in McAllen, during the purchase of a “Century Arms” rifle, according to the indictment.

“… Guerra falsely represented on the ATF form 4473, that he was the actual buyer of the firearm described above, when in truth and fact (Guerra) knew that those statements and representations were false, and that (Escamilla) was the actual buyer of the firearm,” the document stated.

While Guerra faced one count of import/manufacture of firearms, Escamilla faced that charge and an additional three charges of penalties for firearms.

The indictment alleges in addition to the Nov. 16, 2017, incident that Escamilla was involved in at least three other straw purchases, including April 25, 2017, Nov. 13, 2017, and Dec. 1, 2017.

On Nov. 1, 2019, Escamilla agreed to plead guilty to importing/manufacturing firearms; in exchange, the government agreed to dismiss the three counts of penalties for firearms, records show.

Guerra also pleaded guilty to the import/manufacture firearms charge, records show.

In addition to their respective prison sentences, Guerra and Escamilla will be required to serve three years of supervised release upon completion of their prison sentences.