(STL.News) – Under Project Guardian, Patrick Rene Vega, 26 of San Antonio, and Juanita Cisneros Garcia, 44 of Devine, TX, face federal firearms charges in connection with a June 2019 murder-suicide in Devine, announced U.S. Attorney Gregg N. Sofer and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski, Houston Field Office.
A four-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed today charges Garcia and Vega with one count of conspiracy to possess a firearm by a prohibited person under a family violence protective order. The indictment also charges Garcia with two substantive counts of aiding and abetting possession of firearm by a prohibited person—an individual under a family violence protective order; and, a convicted felon. The indictment also charges Vega with one count of making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm.
The indictment alleges that in June 2019, the defendants conspired to knowingly obtain a firearm for Garcia’s former spouse and convicted felon, Jorge Jaramillo. On June 28, 2019, Vega provided false written information while allegedly straw purchasing a .22 caliber pistol on behalf of Jaramillo from a pawn shop in San Antonio. At that time, Jaramillo, a convicted felon and subject to a protective order issued following a family violence incident, was prohibited from possessing a firearm. The protective order, issued in May 2019 after Jaramillo stabbed his intimate partner, Jessica Sanchez, prohibited him from contact or attempted use or threat of physical force against Sanchez. According to the indictment, Jaramillo, aided by Garcia, shot and killed Sanchez on June 30, 2019, using the firearm illegally acquired by Vega. After killing Sanchez, Jaramillo turned the firearm on himself and committed suicide.
The conspiracy charge calls for up to five years in federal prison upon conviction. Each of the remaining charges call for up to ten years in federal prison upon conviction. Federal authorities arrested Vega this morning; Garcia, yesterday afternoon. Both defendants remain in federal custody pending a detention hearing anticipated for next week in U.S. Magistrate Court in San Antonio.
This Project Guardian case is among approximately 350 pending firearms cases in the Western District of Texas. The ATF, Texas Rangers and Devine Police Department are conducting this investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bettina J. Richardson and Matthew W. Kinskey are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
Project Guardian is the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and, ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.