Former Columbus Trustee Pleads Guilty

Las Cruces – Another official from the border town of Columbus has pleaded guilty to gun smuggling charges.

United States Attorney John E. Murphy of West Texas said Monday that 30-year-old Blas Gutierrez, a former village trustee, pleaded guilty to 19 counts of gun smuggling, 17 counts of making false statements in the acquisition of firearms and one count of conspiracy. He faces up to 280 years in prison.

Gutierrez, former Mayor Eddie Espinoza and police chief Angelo Vega were among a dozen people arrested in a federal sting in March. Officials said they were involved in a ring that smuggled hundreds of guns into Mexico.

Espinoza entered the first guilty plea last month. Since then, more than half the defendants have pleaded guilty in the case.

No sentencing dates have been set.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.