POSTED: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 11:27am
UPDATED: Friday, February 1, 2013 - 8:30am
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — Armando Duenez has entered a plea of guilty to conspiracy to export firearms and failure to appear, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Duenez, 31, who entered the plea late yesterday afternoon, was employed as a police officer with the Rio Hondo Police Department during the offense.
The former officer entered into an agreement with others to export weapons from the United States to Mexico. Duenez admitted to working with Raymond Martinez, formerly a member of the Palm Valley Police Department, to buy firearms and sell them for a profit to individuals who intended to smuggle them to Mexico. Duenez admitted to purchasing more than 15 semi-automatic rifles that were later sold in Mexico. The rifles were all capable of accepting high capacity magazines. The investigation began when weapons recovered in Mexico were traced back to him. Martinez was also convicted of dealing in firearms without a license and later sentenced to federal prison.
Duenez was arrested for the firearms offense in July 2008. After being release on bond, Duenez failed to appear for his arraignment having fled to Mexico. Duenez remained in Mexico until he surrendered to United States Marshals Service in December 2012.
U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle, who accepted the guilty plea today, has set sentencing for May 1, 2013. At that time he faces up to five years in federal prison on each of the charges as well as a possible $250,000 fine. He will remain in custody pending that hearing.
This case was investigated by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bill Hagen.