HOUSTON – A 34-year-old Houston man and felon has been ordered to federal prison for illegally purchasing and trafficking firearms, the United States Department of Justice announced Thursday.
A federal jury convicted Jose Abraham Nicanor on May 11 on all 13 counts as charged following a three-day trial. He was also convicted of possessing a firearm after a previous felony for armed robbery.
A judge ordered Nicanor to serve five years in federal prison.
At the hearing, the court heard evidence that reportedly showed Nicanor aggregated the firearms shipment to Mexico. In handing down the sentence, the court noted Nicanor’s conduct amounted to “more than mistakes, but to a pattern of choices to violate the law,” a news release from the DOJ stated.
“Stemming the illegal river of firearms into Mexico, a river stained blood red, deprives Mexican cartels of their tools of violence,” said Hamdani. “Cartels and other transnational criminal organizations are a national security threat, and my office, with its fearless prosecutors, will always be committed to aggressively pursuing those who exploit American gun laws so that weapons of war don’t reach violent criminals in Mexico and beyond.”
“Firearms trafficking and straw purchasing are not victimless crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Noel Rangel of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). “These acts are illegal and puts firearms in the hands of violent criminals. By focusing on firearms trafficking and straw purchasing, ATF keeps guns out of the hands of criminal trigger pullers, thereby reducing violent crime.”
Investigators said Nicanor recruited two straw purchasers to buy high-caliber rifles that drug trafficking organizations regularly seek.
Testimony and evidence allegedly showed that 94 firearms were attributable to Nicanor’s straw purchasing group. Mexican authorities later recovered some of the firearms in the possession of drug trafficking organizations, U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani said.
Authorities also said that Nicanor rented a machine gun at a local gun range and posted a video of himself with the firearm to his social media. As a convicted felon, he is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition, the DOJ said.
Nicanor was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The straw purchasers – James Paxton Jefferson, 34, and Alejandro Garcia, 33, both of Houston – previously pleaded guilty and have been sentenced.
ATF conducted the investigation. Mexican authorities also provided assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa Collins and Stuart Tallichet prosecuted the case.