A former Cameron County sheriff's deputy was arraigned Friday for allegedly straw-purchasing three pistols at a local sporting goods store.
Esequiel Sauceda, 31, pleaded not guilty to making a false statement in firearms records. He was released on $50,000 bond.
His lawyer, Robert Lerma, said he was still familiarizing himself with the case and did not yet have any comment. He said Sauceda had resigned from the sheriff's department. Some local news reports said Sauceda was terminated on Thursday. Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio did not immediately return a call for clarification.
According to the Sept. 1 federal indictment, Sauceda on Dec. 8, 2007, misrepresented himself as the final buyer of two .22-caliber pistols and one 9 mm pistol. It was unclear from court documents for whom the weapons were purchased, or if they wound up in Mexico.
“It boils down to he bought weapons for someone else,” said Franceska Perot, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
ATF special agents arrested Sauceda on Thursday.
A trial has been set to begin in November. If convicted, Sauceda faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.