Man faces firearm charge in trio’s gun case

The last of three men to face punishment for illegally obtaining firearms had his sentencing hearing postponed, records show.

Enrique Flores-Banda was scheduled for sentencing Wednesday, but the hearing was reset after the court agreed to grant a continuance. A new sentencing date has not been set, records show.

Flores-Banda, 26, along with Brian Austin Ibarra, 22, and Jose Carlos Monterrosa-Solis, 24, were indicted and charged for firearm violations related to their arrests in November 2019.

According to the complaint against the men, they conspired to illegally obtain firearms by providing false statements on federal firearms forms and then planned to transport them into Mexico.

Federal agents were conducting surveillance in the area near a federally licensed firearms dealer after the dealer advised agents that Ibarra had purchased a firearm.

The agents followed Ibarra to an apartment complex in Edinburg where they observed Ibarra meet with a man later identified as Flores-Banda.

“Ibarra exited the vehicle with a firearm box and made contact with Flores-Banda,” the complaint states. “ATF/HSI agents observed the (men) return to their vehicles and proceed to exit the apartment parking lot.”

Shortly afterward, agents observed Ibarra exit his vehicle, with the aforementioned firearm box, and began to run towards the back of the apartment complex. Agents eventually caught up to Ibarra but he said the box was empty, the complaint states.

“… Ibarra stated the firearm box was empty and that he had given the firearm to Flores-Banda,” the document states.

The complaint states that agents made contact with Flores-Banda as well.

“Agents then looked under the vehicle, at which time agents observed, in plain view, a wooden stock of what appeared to be an AK style rifle attached to the undercarriage of the vehicle with white, plastic zip ties,” the document states.

Monterrosa-Solis was also in the vehicle with Flores-Banda, the record shows.

During their interviews with authorities, Flores-Banda stated he hired Ibarra to purchase the firearm from the dealer for $50, the record shows.

“Flores-Banda revealed that (he) provided Ibarra with the money to purchase the firearm,” the document states. “Flores-Banda stated that he directed Ibarra to purchase the firearm on his behalf. Flores-Banda stated he knew that having Ibarra purchase the firearm on his behalf was illegal.”

He also said he told Ibarra the firearm was intended for travel into Mexico.

For his part, Monterrosa-Solis said he placed the firearm he was handed in the undercarriage of the vehicle. The 24-year-old man from El Salvador, who admitted to being in the country without authorization, was implicated by Flores-Banda of having participated in firearm smuggling on at least three other occasions, the complaint states.

Ibarra, of Donna, was sentenced Monday to time served and 14 days home confinement. He will also be required to serve three years of supervised release, court notes show.

Monterrosa-Solis was sentenced on July 31 to a 27-month prison sentence, records show.

Flores-Banda pleaded guilty to the firearm violation in February of this year.

Guns and ammunition like the ones involved in this case, purchased legally and illegally in the U.S., are often smuggled into Mexico and end up in the hands of criminals, exacerbating the violence perpetrated by drug cartel organizations as a result of the drug trade.