- Jayel Aheram via Flickr
A former Army recruiter in Texas took a plea deal on Wednesday and admitted to funneling dozens of guns purchased in the US to a drug cartel in Mexico, the Associated Press reports.
Sgt. Julian Prezas faces up to 30 years in prison over charges of lying on federal forms and illegal exportation of firearms. Sentencing is set for March 23.
The 36-year-old soldier organized a group of fellow servicemembers, who bought weapons and ammunition as “straw purchasers” that were later sold to members of the Gulf Cartel, the oldest criminal organization in Mexico. Prezas supplied the money to his fellow soldiers – co-defendants in the case – who later received a cut of sales.
Prezas admitted in court documents to acquiring 42 guns – 23 of which were later seized by the government. One of the co-defendants who became an informant against him, however, said Prezas sold closer to 70 AR-15s and AK-47 rifles, according to San Antonio Express-News.
Prezas was arrested in September 2015 trying to sell 17 guns to an informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, according to UPI. Co-defendants Spc. Jaime Casillas and Staff Sgt. Andrew Reyes are facing up to 10 years in prison, the Express-News reports.