Regional
7:41 pm
Tue April 19, 2011

Judge Denies Release For Columbus Village Trustee

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – A federal judge ruled Tuesday a Columbus village trustee should remain behind bars pending trial on gun smuggling and other charges in what prosecutors have described as a scheme to buy guns in the U.S. to ship to Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Robert Brack rejected Blas Gutierrez's appeal of a federal magistrate's decision last month to deny him bail.

Gutierrez faces 37 charges of conspiracy, gun smuggling and posing as a straw buyer of weapons. According to wiretaps cited by the prosecution, Gutierrez would receive calls from an inmate in a Mexican prison, instructing him to buy the guns.

Gutierrez, the mayor of Columbus and the border village's police chief were among a dozen people arrested last month in an alleged gun-smuggling ring.

Gutierrez's attorney could not be reached Tuesday.