Eagle Pass Police Officer Enters Guilty Plea in Connection with Stolen Firearm Case
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 27, 2013|
In Del Rio, 40-year-old Eagle Pass Police Officer Eriberto Leija faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine after pleading guilty this afternoon to one count of possession of a stolen firearm announce United States Attorney Robert Pitman and FBI Special Agent In Charge Armando Fernandez.
Appearing before United States Magistrate Judge Collis White, Leija admitted that on July 15, 2012, he possessed a stolen firearm, namely, an M1 .30 caliber rifle with a folding stock. According to the factual basis filed in the case, Leija claimed to have discovered the firearm in a vacant lot in Eagle Pass while investigating a drive-by shooting incident. Furthermore, Leija admitted to taking a picture of it and then sending that picture to a co-worker in an attempt to sell the firearm for $500. The factual basis further states that on the following morning, Leija contacted EPPD dispatch and requested a firearms check through the NCIC database to determine if the rifle was stolen. The query returned a positive hit indicating that the weapon had been stolen. During questioning by EPPD personnel, Leija stated that he was not in possession of the firearm, that it was in Mexico, and that he queried it as a favor to a Mexican Federal Police officer.
The factual basis also states that Leija attempted to cover up the fact that he knowingly was in possession of a stolen firearm by soliciting a Mexico Federal Police officer to create a false document purporting to transfer the custody of the stolen firearm. When confronted by authorities with the solicitation and photo he sent to his co-worker, Leija admitted that he lied about the scheme and the fact that the weapon had been in his possession the entire time.
Leija is currently on bond pending sentencing. Sentencing has yet to be scheduled.
This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation together with the Eagle Pass Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Jay Hulings is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.