No Bond for Texas-Based Lawyer Accused of Smuggling Guns to Drug Cartels

Person with gun.

Photo: zef art/ Shutterstock.com

A federal judge today declined to grant bond to a lawyer, licensed in Mexico but living in San Antonio, Texas, who’s charged in an alleged conspiracy to smuggle firearms out of the United States to drug trafficking organizations.

It was the second time that defendant Ernesto Gutierrez-Martinez tried and failed to get bond, noted his attorney, San Antonio solo practitioner David E. Dilley Jr. He was arrested Oct. 30, 2018, and later pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to smuggle goods from the United States and conspiracy to possess a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

"He is an attorney from Mexico with a lawful permanent-resident status in the U.S. He has no office or home in Mexico and has made his home in San Antonio for several years," Dilley wrote in an email. "He denies the allegations in the indictment and we are currently reviewing the evidence provided by the government. Any weapons that he purchased by private sale were lawful to purchase in the U.S."

The March 6 superseding indictment in United States v. Gutierrez-Martinez, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio, said that in May 2018, Gutierrez-Martinez entered negotiations with an undercover agent to buy a Barrett Arms .50 caliber semi-automatic rifle. Gutierrez-Martinez allegedly forwarded his co-defendant, whose name is redacted in the indictment, his text messages with the undercover agent.

The co-defendant told Gutierrez-Martinez “that ‘the guy’ keeps bothering him about the purchase of Barrett rifles,” alleged the indictment. Later, Gutierrez-Martinez allegedly asked the undercover officer for a photo of the rifle, and when he got it, he texted the image to the co-defendant. In late May 2018, Gutierrez-Martinez allegedly met up with the undercover agent to purchase two Barrett rifles.

The indictment alleges Gutierrez-Martinez and his co-defendant conspired to buy and smuggle firearms to a drug trafficking organization that committed offenses under federal drug laws. In February 2018, Gutierrez-Martinez and the co-defendant discussed a newspaper article about conflicting Mexican drug cartels, and talked about “how the firearms they previously provided to the drug trafficking organization should be used in the conflict,” alleged the indictment.

Gutierrez-Martinez’s trial is currently set for May 13.