U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Southern District of Texas
Southern District of Texas
For Immediate Release
May 23, 2013
Kenneth Magidson, United States Attorney
Contact: Angela Dodge, Public Information Officer
Laredoan Gets Max for Illegal Possession of a Shotgun
LAREDO TX — Texas – Juan Francisco Leal, 39, of Laredo, has been ordered to federal prison for 10 years for being a felon in possession of a shotgun, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Leal pleaded guilty to the charge Dec. 10, 2012.
Today, U.S. District Judge Diana N. Saldaña sentenced Leal to a term of 120 months in federal prison – the maximum allowed by law. Following completion of his prison term, he will be on supervised release for three years.
Laredo Police Department (LPD) investigators interviewed Leal on Feb. 10, 2012, as a suspect in a murder in Laredo. In the course of the investigation, a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun was found in the attic of Leal’s home. Officers also found a plastic bag containing 124.40 grams of methamphetamine. Leal stated he had acquired the shotgun for protection, because he sold drugs from his home. Leal also admitted he is a former member of the Mexican Mafia.
As a convicted felon, Leal is prohibited from possessing a firearm.
At the sentencing today, Leal asked for leniency. However, Judge Saldaña noted the defendant’s criminal history - dating to 1991 when convicted of attempted murder and two subsequent charges of alien smuggling and possessing marijuana - and stated “there is strong need to protect the community from you.”
Court records reflect that on Oct. 10, 2012, a Webb County grand jury indicted Leal for murder.
This case 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.
The matter was investigated by the ATF in conjunction with the Laredo Police Department. Several police officers have been cross-designated as ATF task force officers working directly with the federal agency, assisting in the investigation of this and other crimes. Assistant United States Attorney Homero Ramirez prosecuted the case.