Wednesday, July 25, 2012
AZMEX EXTRA 25-7-12
AZMEX EXTRA 25 JUL 2012
Note: Still no new info on the truck driver Bogan case.
Border Patrol agent, girlfriend set to plead guilty in guns case
By Adriana M. Chávez \ EL PASO TIMES
Posted: 07/25/2012 10:17:01 AM MDT
Reporter Adriana M. Chávez
An El Paso Border Patrol agent and his girlfriend are scheduled to plead guilty next month to charges that they smuggled guns to Mexican drug cartel members.
In April, federal agents arrested Border Patrol Agent Ricardo Montalvo, 28, and his girlfriend, Carla Gonzales-Ortiz, 29, after their indictment on conspiracy, firearms and smuggling charges.
Both have been jailed without bond since their arrests.
According to a judge's calendar for Senior U.S. District Judge David Briones, Montalvo is scheduled to plead guilty on Aug. 15, and Gonzales-Ortiz is to plead guilty on Aug. 16.
According to information at a detention hearing for the couple after their arrest, an investigation into the gun-smuggling allegations began in early 2011 after a man, identified in court documents only as E.P., told agents he worked as a "straw purchaser" for Montalvo.
A straw purchaser is a person who fills out paperwork to buy a gun from a licensed dealer but is actually illegally buying the gun for someone else.
Montalvo allegedly once tried to recruit other straw purchasers while wearing his Border Patrol uniform.
The couple's indictment states Montalvo bought ammunition and firearms, such as AK-47-type rifles favored by Mexican drug cartels. He also allegedly bought about 20,000 rounds of ammo,
97 high-capacity magazines -- including 10 100-round magazines for 5.56 mm rifles -- and four 37 mm flare launchers, which drug cartels can convert to grenade launchers.
At the detention hearing, a special agent with Customs and Border Protection's Internal Affairs division, testified that the couple became involved in buying weapons, ammunition and accessories destined for Mexico in the fall of 2010. Montalvo recruited straw purchasers by paying them for buying weapons and other items, and he paid them extra if they delivered the items to Mexico.
In January 2011, agents executed two search warrants at the couple's home on Emerald Point Drive in far East El Paso. There, the agents seized nine weapons, a handwritten ledger with descriptions of the weapons and price markups, and a photo from Montalvo's computer showing Montalvo, dressed in plain clothes, holding a large wad of money. Topping the wad was a $100 bill. The photo was titled "Pay Day."
Gonzales-Ortiz was charged in the case after she attempted to buy two weapons in 2010 but was denied based on her expired immigrant visa status at the time. At the time the investigation began, Gonzales-Ortiz was living illegally in the U.S. with Montalvo.
Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz have a child, who was 6 months old at the time they were arrested, a lawyer for Gonzales-Ortiz said during the couple's detention hearing.
Adriana M. Chávez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6117. Follow her on Twitter @AChavezEPTimes.