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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of Texas
Alamdar Hamdani, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Thursday, December 15, 2022

First Person Referred From New Anti-Gang Center Ordered to Prison

LAREDO, Texas – A 51-year-old Laredo resident has been sentenced for illegal firearms possession, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Hector Agustin Esparza pleaded guilty Sept. 12.

Today, U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana ordered him to serve the statutory maximum of 10 years in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. In imposing the sentence, she noted that what Esparza did was very dangerous and that he could have killed members of law enforcement.

On June 15, law enforcement responded to a “be-on-the-lookout” for a car in relation to a burglary call, located it and attempted to conduct a traffic stop. Esparza was driving and refused to stop. A chase soon ensued through several Laredo streets and parking lots.

At one point, he pulled into a Sam’s Club parking lot and stopped. However, Esparza then fired at authorities and then fled again. He disregarded a traffic light and ultimately collided with another vehicle.

Law enforcement took him into custody, at which time they recovered a .40 caliber pistol from the car.

Esparza admitted to being the shooter during the police chase and claimed to be an ex-Mexican Mafia gang member. Esparza admitted he had recently been released from prison after serving four years for an aggravated robbery. A criminal records check confirmed that Esparza had seven prior felony convictions and was also under indictment at the time.

As a convicted felon, he is prohibited from possessing a firearm per federal law.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted investigation as part of the Texas Anti-Gang Center (TAG) Program with the assistance of the Laredo Police Department. The Laredo TAG became operational in mid-2022, and Esparza was the first person referred for federal prosecution. Nine other cases charging 14 others with drug and firearm charges are pending trial or sentencing in federal court.

These such cooperative matters provide for the establishment of permanent multi-agency teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to combat the shared threat of criminal organization operating in Laredo and surrounding area. Additional information about the TAG Program can be found on the website.

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