U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Southern District of Texas
Southern District of Texas
For Immediate Release
March 8, 2012
Kenneth Magidson, United States Attorney
Contact: Angela Dodge
Kidnapper Gets Max For Illegal Possession of a Firearm
LAREDO, Texas – Gerardo Banda Jr., a 26-year-old Laredo resident, has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for illegally possessing two handguns that he used to threaten and kidnap another person, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Senior United States District Judge George Kazen handed Banda the maximum sentence for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and further ordered he serve a three-year-term of supervised release after completing his sentence.
Between 2:00-3:00 a.m. on May 9, 2011, Banda drove to the home of his victim. Banda honked his horn until the victim awoke and approached Banda's SUV, at which time Banda pointed two semi-automatic pistols, a Glock Model 31, in .357 Sig caliber and a 9 mm Beretta Model PX4 Storm, at the victim. Banda jumped into the back seat and ordered the victim to drive. After some time driving, the victim noticed Banda was distracted and stopped the SUV in the vicinity of the 1500 and 1600 blocks of Plum Street, jumped out from the driver's side and ran for cover. Banda fired several shots at the victim, but missed.
The victim reported the incident to the Laredo Police Department (LPD) and investigators and agents with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) attempted to arrest Banda near his home. As the officers approached, Banda fled on foot carrying a woman's handbag, which he dropped during the brief foot pursuit. Officers arrested Banda and discovered the two pistols which he used that morning in the handbag. Each pistol was loaded with 15 rounds of ammunition. Investigators also found 12 spent pistol rounds at the scene where the victim escaped, which matched ammunition from one of the two pistols.
In the course of the investigation, officers discovered that Banda had been convicted in 2007 of the state felony crime of aggravated assault. It is a federal crime for convicted felons to possess firearms or ammunition. Banda pleaded guilty Dec. 12, 2011.
Banda will remain in federal custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a nationwide commitment to reduce gun and gang crime in America by networking existing local programs that target gun and gun crime and providing these programs with additional tools necessary to be successful. Since its inception in 2001, approximately $2 billion has been committed to this initiative. This funding is being used to hire new federal and state prosecutors, support investigators, provide training, distribute gun lock safety kits, deter juvenile gun crime and develop and promote community outreach efforts as well as to support other gun and gang violence reduction strategies.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Laredo Police Department and the Webb County District Attorney’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Homero Ramirez.