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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Arizona
For Immediate Release
Gary M. Restaino, United States Attorney
Thursday, September 22, 2022

Arizona City Man Sentenced to 27 Months for Straw Purchasing 82 Firearms Bound for Mexico

PHOENIX, Ariz. – On September 13, 2022, Jorge Zuniga-Aguilera, 23, of Arizona City, Arizona, was sentenced by United States District Judge Douglas L. Rayes to 27 months in prison, followed by 36 months of supervised release. Zuniga-Aguilera previously pleaded guilty to Making a False Statement During the Purchase of a Firearm.

Between September 2020 and June 2021, Zuniga-Aguilera straw purchased at least 82 firearms from Arizona gun stores and put them into illegal commerce. Two of these firearms were recovered by law enforcement in Mexico City, Mexico. One was used to murder a Mexican citizen.

Zuniga-Aguilera purchased the firearms for a person whom he knew did not have legal status in the United States—and who therefore could not legally purchase firearms—in exchange for money. To make the purchases, Zuniga-Aguilera lied about where he lived and lied about being the true purchaser of the firearms.

“Border security means protecting our neighbor’s sovereignty,” said United States Attorney Gary Restaino.  “When American guns flow south into Mexico, we all lose.  Straw purchase prosecutions are an important step in securing the border and protecting communities in both countries.”

“ATF is committed to stopping illegal firearms trafficking both within the United States and internationally,” said Brendan Iber, ATF Special Agent in Charge. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to identify and stop straw purchasers and those persons or organizations enabling straw purchasers.”

This case was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, many stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, assisted by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, conducted the investigation in this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Coleen Schoch, District of Arizona, Phoenix, handled the prosecution.

CASE NUMBER:            CR-21-00744-DLR-PHX
RELEASE NUMBER:    2022-160_Zuniga-Aguilera

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