11 Dallas Area Men Indicted For Gun Smuggling Operation
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Eleven North Texas men were indicted in federal court Wednesday of using false identities to purchase guns to be sold illegally to buyers in Mexico.
According to a three-count federal indictment, Lialo Jourel Benavides, 29, of Carrollton, and Eric Palma, 36, of Grand Prairie, began conspiring the scheme in October 2010 and carried it out through June of this year.
In the first count, the indictment accuses the two of selecting licensed firearms dealers and buying specific weapons from them using false oral and written statements that painted them under fake identities. They then planned to sell the guns in Mexico.
The indictment says they bought an assault rifle on October 29, 2010 and a second on September 18, 2011 with the knowledge that each “would be transported to the Republic of Mexico.”
A second count shows the two were joined by Lewisville resident Andrew Satterlee, 32; Richard Valdes, 40, of Burleson; Joshua Coulter, 33, of Carrollton; Emilio Agron, 40, of Dallas; David Snead, 38, of Arlington; Jose Trevino, 35, of Grand Prairie; Anthony Smith, 45, of Garland; Brian Launius, 22, of Dallas; and Robert Mannix, 52, of Dallas; in a similar accusation.
The indictment says those suspects agreed to help Benavides falsify forms sent to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms when the weapons are purchased. They’re also accused of transporting the guns to meeting locations within the jurisdiction of the Eastern District of Texas.
Benavides is accused of paying each suspect for transfers made between December 9, 2010 and April 21, 2011.
The third count in the indictment says Benavides, Valdes, Coulter, Agron, Snead and Trevino skirted reporting transactions to the federal government by buying money orders for less than $3,000 on the same day at multiple post offices.
Anyone who buys multiple money orders of less than $3,000 but adds up to more than $3,000 must fill out a transaction report, according to a federal statute.
The indictment says the group bought $77,652 worth of money orders –– $25,250 of which was bought in the Eastern District where they were indicted.
These money orders, the indictment says, were used to buy the weapons. Benavides and Palma are charged with conspiring to smuggle firearms from the United States to Mexico.
Each count carries imprisonment up to five years and a fine of no more than $250,000. Benavides was charged with all three counts; Palma, Valdes, Coulter, Agron, Snead and Trevino were charged with two; Satterlee, Smith, Launius and Mannix were charged with one count.