Pleaded guilty to buying an AK-47 while under felony indictment, facing deportation

In May 2018, a car chase that began in the parking lot of the Rio Grande Regional Hospital resulted in Jesus Orlando Casal-Garza, 31, of McAllen, Texas, facing one count each of murder, accident involving death, accident involving injury, accident involving serious bodily injury, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

According to police reports seen by The Monitor, which is published in McAllen, Casal-Garza felt that he was owed something by the occupants of the pursued vehicle and was quite irate about not being given whatever he felt he was owed.

He is currently awaiting trial in the 389th District Court in Hidalgo County, on the above charges.

Arrested for possession of a weapon while under felony indictment

The Gun Control Act of 1968, codified under 18 U.S.C. chapter 44 — Firearms, bans persons convicted for any felony offense, or for a misdemeanor domestic violence offense, from ever possessing firearms.

The Gun Control Act language codified under 18 U.S.C. § 922(n) extends that ban to any person who is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, which means a felony crime.

On March 2, 2020, Jesus Orlando Casal-Garza appeared before Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, McAllen Division. He had been brought to court to face accusations of unlawfully receiving an AK-47 style rifle in March 2019, while free on bond from charges resulting from the May 2018 automobile chase.

Federal prosecutors allege that he traveled to Pharr, Texas on March 8, 2019 to purchase a Pioneer Arms Corporation 7.62x39 Sporter AKM-47 style rifle.

As reported by The Monitor, Casal-Garza pleaded not guilty after being arrested by federal agents on the weapons charge last April. He changed the plea to guilty when he appeared before the U.S. District Judge, adding that at the time he was unaware it was illegal for him to possess the weapon.

That shouldn't cause confusion over whether he bought the gun or not.

According to a copy of the plea agreement, federal prosecuters agreed to lower its sentencing recommendation in exchange for the guilty plea. The recommendation is to reduce sentencing by two levels of the 43 levels of offense seriousness defined by Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

An immigration detainer has been issued for the suspect

Jesus Orlando Casal-Garza is scheduled to return to federal court for sentencing on May 12. Until then, he remains in federal custody, thanks to an immigration detainer. These are used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to place “holds” on potentially deportable individuals being held in jails or prisons.


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