Former Columbus Mayor Pleads Guilty

Las Cruces – The former police chief of a small New Mexico border town has pleaded guilty to federal charges in a firearms trafficking investigation.

Prosecutors say 40-year-old Angelo Vega appeared Thursday before a federal magistrate in Las Cruces in a change of plea hearing. Vega was among a group of Columbus officials accused of helping to smuggle hundreds of guns into Mexico.

The town's former mayor, a former town trustee and nearly a dozen other people already have pleaded guilty in the case.

Prosecutors say Vega faces up to a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to felony conspiracy charge. A sentencing date hasn't been set.

Columbus is just north of Palomas, Mexico, which has seen increasing violence as drug cartels wage war against one another, the Mexican Army and police.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.