Western Hidalgo County businessman acquitted on federal firearms charges
After fewer than two hours of deliberation, a jury acquitted a western Hidalgo County businessman Wednesday on four federal firearms charges.
The jury acquitted western Hidalgo County businessman Lombardo Bazan-Barrera, 32, of Mission on Wednesday.
"The jury came back with not guilty on all four counts," said attorney Oscar Alvarez, who represented Bazan. "And we're very grateful that they were able to carefully review all the evidence, especially the lack of credibility of the three cooperating government witnesses."
Federal agents accused Bazan of recruiting three relatives — including a clerk at the La Joya school district — to buy guns, including 16 weapons seized at the Hidalgo bridge during January 2016. All three struck plea deals and agreed to testify against Bazan.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandro "Alex" Benavides said Bazan masterminded the scheme, providing cash for the purchases and taking possession of the weapons after every sale.
Alvarez, though, argued that Bazan didn't tell the buyers to make false statements when buying the weapons. He blasted the witnesses who testified against Bazan, calling them "convicted felons" and liars.
"Not only did they lie to agents on multiple occasions in the course of this investigation, they lied to you in open court," Alvarez said during his closing argument.
Bazan, who owned a towing company and handled small construction jobs in western Hidalgo County, spent the past seven months behind bars after prosecutors suggested he might flee to Mexico.
"His businesses that he was involved in are basically not operational at this point," Alvarez said, adding that Bazan will be forced to start over. "He's got some work ahead, but I've had discussions with him and he's just so grateful that he'll be able to rejoin his family very soon and go back to being a productive citizen."