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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Southern District of Texas

For Immediate Release

December 8, 2011

Kenneth Magidson, United States Attorney

Contact: Angela Dodge, Public Affairs Officer
(713) 567-9388

Federal Jury Returns Guilty Verdict Against Corpus Man in Firearms Case

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Elias Puebla, 21, has been found guilty of one count of illegally receiving a firearm, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The jury returned its verdict just a few minutes ago following a two-day trial and approximately one hour of deliberation. Puebla was acquitted on the second count in which he was charged.

Puebla, a Corpus Christi resident, was arrested Aug. 15, 2011, by investigating agents who were executing an arrest warrant which issued as a result of a state probation violation. Puebla was later indicted on Sept. 28, 2011. He was accused of receiving a shotgun between on or about Feb. 2, 2011 and May 31, 2011, and receiving a handgun on Aug. 15, 2011. As he was on state probation for a felony offense, Puebla was not permitted by federal law to possess or receive a firearm.

During trial, the government presented evidence involving the straw purchase of a shotgun by Puebla’s friend and roommate on Puebla’s behalf. He, Puebla, later tried to conceal the shotgun with a relative, who ultimately turned it over to law enforcement.

The jury also heard that the United States Marshals Service executed an arrest warrant for Puebla at a residence in Corpus Christi. At that time, agents discovered numerous firearms, located in every room of the residence, including a duffle bag with more than 20 fully–functional AK–47 assault rifles – all without serial numbers – located in living room. In that living room, Puebla also picked up a .380 caliber handgun to inspect it. That handgun was the basis for the charge in the second count of the indictment.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who presided over the trial, has set sentencing for March 8, 2012, at which time he faces up to five years imprisonment and a maximum $250,000 fine on each count of conviction. He will also serve up to a three–year–term of supervised release following completion of his prison term.

The investigation leading to the criminal charges was conducted in Corpus Christi lead by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, United States Marshals Service and police departments in Corpus Christi and Victoria.

This case, prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Julie K. Hampton, was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), 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.