A former law enforcement officer in Texas will now spend four years behind bars for falsifying 4473s and selling guns to shady characters in Mexico.
Jose Cruz, 49, was sentenced this week to 48 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Randy Crane, reports The Monitor.
According to the criminal complaint, Cruz, while working as the manager of The Gun Rack in McAllen, Texas, sent as many as 80 weapons and at least 500 rounds of ammo south of the border.
Judge Crane said that “After a gunfight where there were multiple people killed,” agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were able to trace the recovered guns at the crime scene back to Cruz’s store.
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After interviewing Cruz, ATF agents discovered he was padding honest customer’s 4473s with firearms they didn’t purchase. Then, he would sell those extra guns out the back door to individuals to “protect himself,” according to his statement during the sentencing hearing on Monday.
“He was basically acting under the direction of other people,” Richard Gould, Cruz’s public defender, said.
It’s not clear who those individuals were or why Cruz didn’t contact law enforcement for help.
As mentioned, Cruz was a cop. He served on the job for 22 years in cities around the area before working as a reserve deputy for the Precinct 3 Hidalgo County Constable’s Office.
In court, Cruz asked Judge Crane to consider his public service before deciding on his sentence.
“I’ve already lost a lot of things,” said Cruz, reading from a prepared statement. “I hope that my previous years of helping people out are taken into consideration.”
Judge Crane could have sentenced Cruz up to 57 months in prison. But opted for a lighter sentence of four years.
Cruz will have to turn himself in on Jan. 4, 2021.