Court hearing for El Paso Border Patrol agent, girlfriend accused of gun smuggling rescheduled for next week
April 13th 2012 · 3 Comments
A scheduled detention hearing for an El Paso Border Patrol agent and his girlfriend, each accused of gun smuggling, was rescheduled today after some legal wrangling over which attorneys would represent them.
The detention hearing, otherwise known as a bond hearing, is now set for Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Mesa.
Accused in the case are Border Patrol Agent Ricardo Montalvo, 28, and his girlfriend, Carla Gonzales-Ortiz, 29. Federal agents arrested the couple on Monday following their indictment on conspiracy, fire arms and smuggling charges.
They were the target of an investigation that lasted more than a year, said officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico.
Earlier this week, attorney Sergio Coronado told a federal judge that he would be representing Montalvo, while lawyer Leonard Morales was appointed to represent Gonzales-Ortiz.
However, during today’s hearing Coronado filed a request to withdraw as Montalvo’s attorney, stating he would instead be representing Gonzales-Ortiz. Sib Abraham also indicated to Mesa during Friday’s hearing that he would represent Montalvo.
Federal prosecutors objected to the attorney substitutions, citing a “conflict of interest” because Coronado had been serving as Montalvo’s attorney since the investigation against Montalvo began last summer.
Following a brief recess, Coronado withdrew his requests to the court and told Mesa he would continue representing Montalvo. Morales also told Mesa he would stay on as Gonzales-Ortiz’s lawyer.
The couple is accused of buying high-powered weapons and large amounts of ammunition to be smuggled to Mexico. Their indictment states Montalvo bought ammunition and firearms, such as AK-47-type pistols favored by Mexican drug cartels, but the document does not specify to whom the weapons were going to be sold.
Montalvo also bought about 20,000 rounds of ammo, 97 high-capacity magazines — including 10 100-round magazines for 5.56-mm rifles — and four 37-mm flare launchers that drug cartels can convert to grenade launchers, the indictment alleged.
Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz allegedly made the purchases knowing that the guns and ammo were intended to be smuggled to Mexico. The indictment does not disclose whether any of the weapons were actually taken into Mexico.
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