COLUMBUS, N.M. (KRQE) – The former mayor of a New Mexico border town pleaded guilty to gun smuggling charges four months after he was arrested in a federal sting.
On Tuesday, Eddie Espinoza, 51, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, three counts of making false statements, and three counts of smuggling firearms from the United States.
The guilty plea means the former mayor of the village of Columbus could face up to 50 years in a federal prison.
In March, federal agents arrested Espinoza and several others, including Columbus Chief of Police Angelo Vega and village Trustee Blas Gutierrez.
Federal documents state the group smuggled more than 200 guns from New Mexico to the streets of Cíudad Juárez and Palomas, Chihuahua. The documents further state that at times the group used unmarked police cars registered toColumbus to smuggle the guns across the border. Agents had been following the illegal operation for more than a year.